Thursday, August 4, 2011

Montclair Native Yael Averbuch is a CKG on and off the field

This picture is from an article worth reading, written back in 2009

Yael Averbuch is a Certified Killer of the Game in the fields of soccer, writing, charisma, and has a very bright future.

The New York Times Soccer Blog agrees with me.

And so does soccer7emilyS:

"And I thank you very much for tweeting me!" OKAY!! OKAY!!

There must be a reason youth soccer players idolize Yael...

Click play:

The NCAA's fastest recorded soccer goal is just one tally on numerous accolades and accomplishments for Yael.  And it all started back in a little Northern Jersey town...

Montclair, the same town as this writer.

From the time we were kids, rumors circulated amongst fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grade soccer players of the juggling-wonder child.  Stories about Yael flew in one ear, and out the other as if our ear canals were part of the corridor system of Hillside Grammar School.

I've only spoken with Yael a few times in my life, yet I've always admired her skills and super-star qualities from afar. My mother actually knows Yael's parents from various running events (
Gloria Averbach, Yael’s mom, is a writer for the New York Times, and also a published author on marathons and training and so on – she co-wrote one with Ashley Hammond as well) and other local athletic fundraisers, which always made me feel somewhat privy to the constant buzz about the young female footballer.

If you haven't heard the tale, it is said that Yael can juggle a soccer ball until she passes out - don't believe me? Ask anyone who attended Ashley's Soccer Camp from 1993-1999.  I'm talking thousands of juggles, bro.

So, as I cruise back to the memories of growing up in the youth soccer powerhouse that was MTCNJ, by the recent accomplishments of Averbuch, I remember a few friends (mini broz at the time!) who were also considered to be amongst the "best youth players in the nation."  They weren't haters per say, but I have distinct memories of these same certain mini broz claiming, "Yael isn't that good, bro."  

It was a preposterously thought provoking claim at the time.  Isn't that good? Are you kidding me? What are you high? Yael was always a step above the rest, but people didn't talk about it because she separated herself from the Montclair soccer community to escolate her soccer talents.  I always tried to argue for her, defending Yael, knowing that my broz were just jealous and clicky (though I never had the heart, or the thought-capacity at the time to say such a thing to my friends, I wouldn't be able to find the right words at that ripe young age but I tried - plus I wasn't as good as them at soccer, which mattered heavily in those days).  Alas, I always lost the argument - my friends would forever remain and maintain the status of considering themselves better soccer players than Yael Averbuch.  They were all so confident and had to be right, so they were right, but just to themselves...

Yael didn't even attend Montclair High School because of her extreme prowess at soccer.
  It was rare for a girl to not play at the school as far as I knew, not to mention they had a very strong squad those years.  Coach J I believe?  Regardless, I would hear male soccer players insist in their superiority over the futbol fair lady! But I always knew they were wrong in my heart.  One day, I would be at peace...

...and that day, is today.

We're all about six years out of high school now, and Yael is still pushing to be a better soccer player.

Professional/US National Team style:

Yael with team USA captain Shannon Boxx

Everyone loves her, it's very inspirational

Not only is Yael now a professionally paid soccer player, she was also a strong consideration for the recent Women's World Cup squad (she was cut just before the trip to Germany), not to mention she is also excelling in writing.  She's been keeping a blog for the New York Times about her experiences with her soccer career, and as you can probably tell by now, I am thoroughly happy for her and all of her accomplishments.  I always knew Yael would prove my mini broz wrong one day!

So, without further adieu, and in honor of Yael killing the game of life, I thought I would attach a link to her most recent blog post for the New York Times, which is about hanging with Mia Hamm, Nomar Garciaparra, and a story that will take your breath away.

Or you could ignore everything I just said:

Quoted in full from The New York Times Soccer Blog:

August 3, 2011, 6:47 PM

At the Mia Hamm’s Celebrity Challenge, the Hero Wore Cargo Shorts

Mia Hamm, left, and her husband Nomar Garciaparra at Sunday's charity match in Washington.
Chris GordonMia Hamm, left, and her husband, Nomar Garciaparra, at Sunday’s charity match in Washington. (Yael to the right)
WASHINGTON — A young man in a yellow polo shirt stood in the middle of the futsal court, surrounded by his family, and even with his sunglasses on, you could tell that he was crying.On the same court stood Kobe Bryant, Pep Guardiola, Mia Hamm, Nomar Garciaparra and various other celebrities. 

The young man was there to meet his hero. But his hero did not emerge in Yankees pinstripes or a United States women’s national team jersey. Instead, an unassuming man strolled casually down from the stands in cargo shorts and a tank top. 

The two embraced emotionally with everyone looking on.No one in the crowd had heard of Jeffery Santana before that day, but I doubt that anyone will forget what they saw. 

At 16, Andrew Vickers, the young man in the yellow polo, received a diagnosis of lymphoma. Santana was tested as a possible bone marrow donor. Fifteen years after being tested, Santana got a call that he was a match for someone in need of a transplant. 

On that futsal court, Andrew Vickers came face to face for the first time with the man who had saved his life.When I got to pass back and forth with Pep Guardiola, I thought that my day was complete. I’m not one to be star-struck, but the Barcelona manager and his team are my fútbol idols. Shaking the hand of Jeffery Santana, however, was by far the highlight of my day. 

I have never felt so honored to meet a true hero.  I have always known that my involvement in this sport transcends the playing field in many ways, but rarely have I seen such a tangible example as I did at Mia Hamm’s Celebrity Soccer Challenge in Washington last Sunday. 

I got to wear Barça gear, hang out with amazing people and play futsal in front of a great crowd. But the most memorable part of the day had nothing to do with soccer. 

I got to see first hand what the Mia Hamm Foundation is all about, and I (along with many others) was floored.I have always had the utmost respect for Mia’s legacy as a player. But the impact she has made off the field is even more incredible to me. 

I strongly urge you to check out the Mia Hamm Foundation Web site. I plan to get tested to become a potential donor, and I hope that I am lucky enough to be a match for a person in need.

This sport continually inspires me to become better — as an athlete and a human being. Once again, I feel humbled and incredibly grateful to be reminded of the impact I can have on other people. A huge thank you to Mia for showing that to us all.

End Quote
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Do me a favor, and visit Yael's facebook fan page, check out her twitter account, and recognize the swag!

On that note...soccer7emilyS...take notes:

Yael puts in serious work, and is doing some real positive stuff - we can all learn about the game of life from her.


(Quote from does not include the Gangstarr YouTube embedment) 

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