Akiba basketball team revived after 30-year hiatus

Akiba-Schechter Stallions player, Ben Roitman (#7) goes in for a layup, during a game against GEMS World Academy, Jan. 25, in the GEMS Academy gym, 350 E. South Water St. Akiba students recently revived the school’s basketball team, which has been inactive for 30 years. -Photo courtesy of Mindy Schiller

By JOSEPH PHILLIPS 
Sports Writer

For the first time in three decades, the Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day Elementary School will have a basketball team that will compete in the 2016-17 season. Although it’s been over three decades for the school, the process of developing the team are what most hoop dreams are made of.

“They came to me with everything already figured out,” said Miriam Schiller, principal of Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day Elementary School “And all they wanted was our support. How could I say no?”

The revival of the school’s basketball team began when a group of 7th and 8th grade boys polled their middle school classmates about the possibility of building a team.

After the polling session ended, the boys approached principal Schiller with written implementation plan that included details on how the team would go about hiring a coach, developing a mascot and most importantly playing the school’s first game in 30 years.
Schiller said after reading the implementation plan thoroughly, she was on board with the idea.

“They had already polled their Middle School classmates to make sure there was support for a team, as well as spoken to faculty members to see if they could find a coach,” Schiller said, “By the time they walked into the office, all they needed was a practice room and a ‘yes.’”

After receiving an affirmative yes during a formal meeting with Schiller and her staff, the students went on to vote for a name for their team mascot. Dubbing themselves the “Stallions,” in addition to setting up tryouts for their 6th, 7th, and 8th grade team.

The players, faculty and staff hired a coach from within the school, Justin Millner, who currently teaches 5th and 6th grade Language Arts at the school, amongst other subjects. Outside of his teaching experience, Millner also plays basketball in several local sports leagues.

The team played its first game against GEMS World Academy, Jan. 25. The Stallions won 24-21.

The team will head back to the Northside to play its next game against Chicago Waldorf School, 1300 W. Loyola Ave., at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Feb. 6. It will also play against The Ancona School at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13. The game is expected to take place at the Southside YMCA, 6330 S. Stony Island Ave.

hpherald@hpherald.com