After a weekend of truly wild wildcard games where the road team won three of four games and the one home winner (Indianapolis) may have been the most unlikely victor of them all, I was all set to write about NFL Football. And then Yahoo Sports posted a story and I knew that I had to write about something entirely different.
At some point last year, I became aware of Aaron Liberman, a college freshman who was trying to walk-on at Northwestern University. For those lacking a background in college athletics, here's a brief introduction to walk-on. Most players on Division I college sports teams are scholarship players who were recruited out of high school and are given a free education in exchange for their playing for the team. Schools will also have open tryouts where any student can try to make the team. Players who are successful in tryouts may practice with the team and the rare few may even get some playing time. (Yes, I did see Rudy, but that was a Hollywood dramatization).
The article that I saw talked about how Liberman had successfully made the Northwestern University basketball team as a "freshman" (he actually spent a year in yeshiva in Israel), but would not be playing in games until the following year. I can't remember if this was the actual article, but the NY Times has a great piece from last January which discusses Liberman's background, the choices that he made and the accommodation that Northwestern made for him. (To see the article, please click here http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/sports/ncaabasketball/northwesterns-aaron-liberman-studies-xs-os-and-torah.html?_r=0. Another article which was featured on the PostGame blog can be found here http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/style-points/201212/college-player-bringing-religious-garb-back-court ).
Of course, after reading about him last year, I did a little YouTube research and saw some amateurish video of Liberman playing for Valley Torah Academy in California. (If you found my blog, you can do your own research on YouTube to find some of Liberman's HS highlights ).
So this year, Liberman is no longer just practicing with the team, he has actually played in some games. The article on the front page of Yahoo is incorrect in asserting that the recent game against Michigan was the first appearance for Liberman as the same Yahoo site has statistics for him in four games, but the picture of a frum athlete playing for Northwestern was inspiring for me and I am sure for many young aspiring frum ball players. The article can be found here - http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/aaron-liberman-makes-big-ten-history-wearing-yarmulke-050602763--ncaab.html. Liberman's statistics so far this season can be found here - http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/players/117758/gamelog.
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