Maccabi USA will bring a team of 1,100+ athletes who will be part of the 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries, participating in 43 different sports at the 20th World Maccabiah Games, which will take place July 4-18, 2017 in Israel.
So it’s pretty impressive when seven of those US Team members come from Spanish River High School in Boca Raton – and are part of the school’s legendary Cross Country and Track program.
The Palm Beach Post noticed and stopped by a team practice yesterday to photograph the athletes and coaches. Here they are:
Rick Rothman: Current assistant cross country/track coach at FAU and former Spanish River High head coach of cross country/track; will be the coach of the Open Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Team at 2017 Games
Doug Horn: Current Spanish River High head coach of cross country/track; will be co-coach of the Open Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Team at 2017 Games.
Melissa Perlman: Assistant cross country/track coach at Spanish River High; former Spanish River High track athlete; is captain of the Open Women’s Half Marathon team at 2017 Games.
Jordana Kimelman: Former Spanish River High runner and current student at Florida State University; will be competing in Women’s Open Half Marathon at 2017 Games.
Jake Noonan: 2017 graduate of Spanish River High who will be entering Indiana University in the fall; was captain of cross country and track teams; will be competing on the Junior Track and Field Team at 2017 Games.
Alex Kline: 2017 graduate of Spanish River High who will be entering the University of Florida in the fall; was four-year member and captain of cross country and track teams; will be running on the Junior Track and Field Team at 2017 Games.
Rylee Pustilnik: Just completed her freshman year and is a state-ranked current member of the Spanish River High cross country and track teams; will be running on the Junior Track and Field Team at 2017 Games.
My fellow coach at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida, Dough Horn, loves to intertwine fun games and team activities within our serious and high-intensity season (which happens to last from summer through mid-November). So when he asked me to plan a “Clue Run” of sorts that would take place the week prior to the Florida State Championships and therefore act as a stress reliever for those that qualified for States (the boys varsity team) and a fun run for those who had already ended their seasons (the remaining 40 kids)…I quickly got to work strategizing! The “Clue Run” was a success for many reasons, which I will list below, and therefore I wanted to share it with others/coaches looking for a great activity to execute with their own respective teams. (Thanks for the push to post here Lacey!)
Doug wanted the run to total 8 miles and of course stay around the Boca Raton area (running distance from Spanish River high school, where the kids would begin the run).
We also decided to split the teams so that the faster kids would be required to “run with” and/or push the not-so-fast kids. Initially we were going to choose the team ourselves, but ended up having captains choose their own teams.
We also needed a way to prove that all of the kids were running the full distance (i.e. making their way to each of the clues)…and that’s where the selfie requirement came into play! (I borrowed that strategy from a Delray Beach “Seek In The City” event I participated in earlier in the year!)
There were 9 clues…and each was spaced a little less than a mile away from the prior clue. Clue locations included: local play ground, water park, cemetery entrance/bench, flags at local university, one of the team members’ houses, crossing guard, Publix produce section, and back the school.
Rules: We gathered the kids after school, named two team captains who went ahead and took turns choosing team members, and then listed the rules. (Earlier in the day, I had driven/run around Boca Raton placing our clues in their “homes” and hoping no one would move anything before our runners had the chance to find them! While most clues were hidden, I did put balloons in certain places where I felt the clues would be tough to find. Remember, the goal was not to get the kids lost but rather for them to run the full 8-mile distance and have a lot of fun!)
Following are the rules shared with the kids:
1. All runners must reach each location. And to prove it, they would have to take a picture of the “team” a the clue location and immediately text it to me.
2. No stealing or moving clues meant for the other team. (Each location had two clues – one for the green team, and one for the blue team – which looking back was a mistake! If I could do it again, we would have had one team go in the reverse direction…to allow for a real race!)
3. No jaywalking! This was critical as the Clue Run is lots of fun…but as we always tell our runners, safety is the priority and cars don’t stop!
4. Be professional! Some of our clues were in private locations (Publix, a park, etc.) and it is important that the kids understand that and act appropriately. On that note, dressing appropriately (wearing shirts) was important as well.
And with that, we sent them off with their first clue…
A few injured runners were on-site to help out. We wanted them to feel included, and I wanted pictures of the excitement…so we provided them clue locations in advance and they were asked to take pictures. As a result, we had awesome pictures…but having them out there with cars led to a few kids on the team bailing out early and/or being lazy and jumping in the cars. Not the intention…and lesson learned for next time!
As I said earlier, two teams going to the exact same location lead to the ultimate merger of the two teams…by the time the kids finished, there was a complete merger of the two teams…luckily the winning prize (a sheet of Rice Krispy Treats) was able to be shared! But next time, we’ll have one team go in a different direction!
Try and keep the number of clues below 8! By the time the kids got to number 7…they were bored and distracted.
Questions? Comment here and I’ll share more detail as needed!
Below is an article from the South Florida Jewish Journal!!! The reporter really did his homework and a fantastic job I have to say. Very thankful! And more excited than ever to head on over to Israel! Thanks David Schwartz and photographer Todd Roller who is just as amazing a talent!
On Monday afternoon, one of our runners – a senior girl – did something she had never done before. She won a major high school cross country invitational race. To make it even more special, it was our own school hosted Spanish River Invitational. The girl is Ellyn and her win was extra special for a number of reasons.
Ellyn had a rough year last year (as she admits to during a PB Post and Sun-Sentinel interview which I’ve included below). Nearly six-feet tall as a 17 year old and running over 35 miles per week, Ellyn had trouble keeping her body at a solid and strong weight. As a result, her junior cross country season ended early and the damage was tough for her to handle. However, rather than falling in the win or wilting under the stress and pressure, Ellyn did something we could all take a lesson from…
Ellyn spent her junior track season building up strength. Then she spent this past summer building up distance and base endurance. And at just her second real meet of the 2012 High School Cross Country season, she won. She won with a strong, gutsy performance. And all who watched were just as impressed as those who know her and her story well.
Distance running is tough. Cross Country and Track are two of the hardest sports. There is no coasting, there is no cheating, there is no “just getting by.” You feed your body poorly – you’ll eventually do poorly. You skip your runs, it will show in your meet performance. Similarly, you put in the work and you take care of yourself – and your body will reward you. Our sport is sorta like life. And when you have champions like Ellyn break through and take a big step in the right direction of their personal journey, you can’t help but be proud!
Read the full article from yesterday’s paper (following Monday’s win by Ellyn). Also congrats to the entire Girls Cross Country team that won the overall team title at the 2012 Spanish River Invitational.