Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lebron James of Jerusalem

When I was in New York, one of my favorite places in the City was Central Park. Central Park has a life to it. It is beautiful, homes all types of recreational opportunities: running (one of my favorite), biking, blading, fishing, sun bathing, Frisbee, baseball, boating and all the other great things you can do in a huge park. After having run what I estimate to be over 200 miles in Central Park and having spent many a weekend afternoon there, Central Park felt like home in New York. I was fearful that I would not be able to find anything like it here in Israel. Thankfully I have.

Whenever I arrive in a new place, one of my favorite ways to get acclimated is to run all over it. I have a pretty decent sense of direction and I greatly enjoy putting on my running shoes, heading out and exploring. On Friday I set out to go see Gan Sacher which is about a mile away from my apartment. Gan Sacher is a relatively large park for Israel standards, and it is similar to New York’s Central Park. Gan Sacher has basketball and soccer courts, a roller rink, skate board park, and a field – a long, open, slightly hilly, field. People are at Gan Sacher at all hours of the day and there are always Israelis there having Barbeques there.
A few pics of Gan Sacher

On Friday as I was running through the park, I saw a group of people playing Ultimate Frisbee! As some of you know, I am a bit of a Frisbee nut – playing Ultimate is one of my favorite Baltimore past times and I play almost every time I’m home. I joined the game for the last 20 minutes, and then spoke to the people who were playing. To my amazement, I was told that there are pickup and league Ultimate games held almost nightly in the park!

Yesterday I went for another run and just had to return to the Park. A large part of the field was being used to set up a large stage and sound tower for a concert being held in the Park this coming week. A bit further down the hill were a different group of Frisbee players throwing around discs before their game. I was so excited. I played catch with them and was invited to the game but had to head out to meet a friend. I was told to come play whenever I want. A bit further down the park, there was a group of people playing Rugby. I have never played before so I stopped to watch them practice for a bit. There was a smattering of Hebrew and Australian, British and American English spoken amongst the group. I asked them if they were on a team and they told me that they played in a league that started in October and I was welcomed to join them. I told them I had never played before and they told me it would not matter. The organizer/captain named Ziggy told me they practice every Monday and Wednesday and he took my number and told me he was going to call me to make sure I come play.

The people here are so friendly – I was never invited to play any sports in Central Park, nor did I have the opportunity to join pick up Frisbee games and rugby leagues. I have definitely found my new park home away from home.

In October, the AFL (American Football League), a flag football league starts up. When I studied here during my year abroad, a bunch of us from my school played in the league. It was a great time. We were pretty good but could not outplay the teams of grownup that had been playing together for years. We could handle the other 18/19 year old teams pretty well. I was planning on joining the AFL in October and playing on one of the adult teams that we were unable to beat. Its now my chance to beat up on the next generation of 18/19 year olds.

I now find myself in a unique situation – I have so many opportunities to play with different leagues/teams/sports that I need to decide where to “bring my talents,” as I don’t think I will have time to play all three sports. Now I know how Lebron felt having to pick where he wanted to go… I feel like the Lebron James of Jerusalem.

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