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Women Give New Meaning to ‘Soccer Moms’ As They Don Cleats for Serious Competition
By SUSAN M. DYCKMAN
Specially Written for The Times
SCOTCH PLAINS — They give new meaning to the term “soccer mom.” Twelve women, 11 from Scotch Plains and Fanwood, one from Westfield, have gone beyond cheering and coaching their kids from the sidelines to don cleats and shin guards of their own to play the game.
Kathy Cornwell of Scotch Plains was the impetus behind the local women’s team after she was invited to play at Montclair’s Soccer Domain by Karen Bredlau, the assistant coach for Scotch PlainsFanwood’s U11 girls’ team.
When Rahway’s Center Circle soccer facility opened, organizers reached out to area soccer moms who might be interested in playing league soccer
rather than simply watching it. Mrs. Cornwell turned to the athletes she knew in town — some had played soccer, others had not — and began to build a team.
None of the team members played soccer in college; a few played in high school; others played on club teams.
“Most of us have some connection to the game in town,” explained Mrs. Cornwell, who has three daughters. “The majority of us coach our kids.”
The 30and 40something locals prefer to play in Montclair. They feel they are better matched to the intermediate level of play available to them at Soccer Domain. In Rahway, competing against younger women in their ‘20s, most of whom played in college, they cannot be as competitive as they would like.
Games take place twice a week at night. Finding time to practice is tough because of conflicting schedules. Sometimes the team will meet for a pick up game where their kids can play, too. Balancing work, husbands, children and home is something the women have become pretty good at.
Though the team, “The Bomb,” officially carries a dozen players, the women actually play seven against seven on the field. They like to have two substitutes on the sidelines.
The Bomb carries more players than it needs for a game because, as Fanwood resident Jody Udelsman said, “People work, they’ve got kids. Things come up.” Mrs. Udelsman is the mother of two boys and coach of the Scotch PlainsFanwood U12 girls’ soccer team.
“For me, it’s the camaraderie of playing a team sport,” she said. “The exercise is a big thing. I’d much rather play three hours of soccer than hop on a treadmill for a half hour.
“At age 40, to be able to come back and score... it’s a great feeling. It’s an uplifting kind of thing, a different kind of experience than what we have
at home or work.” The game is not without its hazards, however. Players Sally Depew and Kathleen Leistikow were sidelined with torn ligaments suffered in two separate games.
“It gets rough,” admitted Mrs. Cornwell. “We do get bruised and bloodied. But that’s sort of part of the fun. We have to behave all day. It’s a chance to let loose a little and be competitive.”
Looking ahead, some members of the team are hoping to hone their soccer skills at a morning clinic this fall, sponsored by the Montclair league.
“We all would like to be taught,” said Mrs. Cornwell. “We love this game... hardly anybody misses a game.”
The other members of the team are Jo Gassler, Pat Hambleton, Maureen Baker, Dorrie Ross, Bonnie Thompson, Colleen Kruyper and Mary Manganiello.
The mother of four girls, Mrs. Gassler is the assistant coach for the girls’ U10 team in town. She got involved in women’s soccer for the socialization and the exercise.
A resident of Scotch Plains, Mrs. Gassler knew the game because her brothers played, not because she herself played as a kid.
“Remember,” she said, “it was the ‘70s. There were no girls’ teams.”
She chuckled at the prospect of being “carded” by the Montclair league when the fall season opens. Like the youth teams, the women will have to present cards to officials prior to the start of each game to verify they are who they say they are. Carding prevents ineligible players from coming along to pad a team.
The Scotch PlainsFanwood women’s team is very open to new players and building a league of its own. Anyone interested in more information should contact Mrs. Cornwell at (908) 6547628.
JCC’s Annual Maccabi Games Showcase Local Athletes in Olympic Style Competition
By JAMIE DOUGHER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
STATEN ISLAND, NY — The Maccabi Games, the Jewish Community Centers (JCC) of North America’s version of the Olympics, take place this week in Staten Island. The event, in which Scotch Plains and Westfield residents participate, will showcase the abilities of some of the area’s most talented athletes.
The JCC of Staten Island hosts the competition of middle and high school students from eight countries and 34 JCCs. This is the second year the JCC of Central New Jersey has decided to send athletes from our region. Some of the sports available for contention are baseball, basketball, gymnastics, swimming, tennis and track and field.
Richard Corman, Executive Director of the JCC of Central New Jersey, visited the site of the Games, the College of Staten Island, on Monday and offered his perspective on the event.
“Each delegation to the event brings pins that are different in color, shape, or form, and each person is given about 10 or 20,” he explained.
Mr. Corman expressed how the pins are a great conversation opener because the kids trade the pins with people from other delegations, thus allowing them to interact with each other in a way that they probably would not be able to without the pins.”
The Scotch Plains and Westfield swimmers, Walter Biner and Rachel Lazar, respectively, hope to reach victory in the pool. Also joining the two swimmers are Eyal Abramson and Aviad Pick, both visiting the area from Israel.
Parents and delegation heads Darren and Harriet Schulman commented, “Their addition adds excitement and Israeli flavor and spirit to the event.”
Mr. Corman feels that the organizers of the Maccabi Games will “accentuate the guests visiting from abroad” in hopes to show the Americans how they can relate with people from faraway places such as Australia, Israel, Venezuela, Canada, Great Britain and Mexico.
The swimmers competed Monday and received the silver medal in the relay medley, making New Jersey second only to the Australian team, which won the gold. It is an impres sive feat, according to Mr. Corman,
who could not believe the “scope of the games... there were 1,100 athletes there from all over the world.”
A basketball team composed of seven Westfield boys and one from Scotch Plains also hoped to triumph in New York. Chip Benisch, Michael Charmatz, Matt Chazanow, Steven Erlich, Dan Hertz, Steven Krakauer, Rory Schulman, and Jason Tammam of Westfield, along with Scott Hyman of Scotch Plains look to represent the area well with their talents on the court. Unfortunately, they lost to Montreal but still put forth excellent effort.
Accompanying the athletics, other exciting events will occur for the teens to take part in during their stay in New York. They have the Opening Ceremonies, held at Madison Square Garden, to commence the weeklong
Maccabi Games. There are also exhibits featuring issues that interest teens, in addition to educational displays about topics such as the Holocaust. Not to mention parades, a Day of Caring and Sharing, Israeli Night, and Tzedakah, which means charity.
The Day of Caring and Sharing signifies that while participating in some of their favorite sports, they will also be given the opportunity to aid and volunteer by feeding the homeless, visiting children’s hospitals, and even collaborating with athletes from the Special Olympics.
The Maccabi Games are thus not only about the athletics. The Games serve as a way for teens to experience what it’s like to be from another part of the world while having fun volunteering and encountering a wide array of cultures.
Michael Stamberger Westfield’s Michael Stanberger Makes Field
At 100th U. S. Amature Championship By LAWRENCE HENRY
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — Westfield resident Michael Stamberger, 28, qualified for the 300plusman field at this week’s 100th U. S. Amateur Golf Tournament, held at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield.
The U. S. Amateur is the oldest major golf championship in the United States. As an amateur sporting event, it ranks on a level with the Olympics. Past champions include Jack Nicklaus, Mark O’Meara, John Cook, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson and (three times) Tiger Woods.
Mr. Stamberger, who qualified for the tournament by playing in a preliminary tournament at Royce Brook Country Club in Somerville, thus establishes himself as one of the 300 or so best amateur golfers in the United States.
He has played in the tournament twice before.
“I’ve had limited success,” Mr. Stamberger said. “Nothing spectacular.”
Mr. Stamberger now works as an equities trader for Jefferies & Company in New York City. He is a 1990 graduate of the WardlawHartridge School.
He learned to play golf, starting at age three, at the Plainfield Country Club and credits former Plainfield CC head pro Mike Gray as one of his
mentors. Mr. Stamberger explained that he has recently had his amateur standing reinstated by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the organization that sponsors the U. S. Amateur.
Before that reinstatement, he played as a professional on the Nike Tour, golf’s minor league tour, now
called the Buy. com Tour, and on some of what are called “minitours.”
The U. S. Amateur is a long, grueling event, starting off with a “medal round,” where all 300plus entrants compete on the basis of total score for two 18hole rounds over two days.
The best 64 scorers in the medal round advance to a fiveround, single elimination match play format. On the final day, the winner must play as many as 36 holes to defeat the last challenger.
Unfortunately, on the first day, Mr. Stamberger shot a 77, six over par. That score placed him at 150th in the field. Reached that night by The Westfield Leader, he groaned, “I played terrible. I’m going to bed.” He had an early tee time the next day.
The next day, Mr. Stamberger shot a 76 and missed the 64man cut.
“I’m going back to work,” he said. But he was looking forward to his next tournament.
“I’ve also qualified for the U. S. MidAmateur, which is limited to players of 25 and over — no college kids,” he explained. “I like my chances in that one.”
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)