by Judy Horwitz
The Coolanu Israel winter camps and coaching seminars in Chicago were a huge success with over 130 campers and 40 coaches participating! Campers had a ball learning basketball fundamentals from head coach Tamir Goodman and the dedicated assistant coaches, attending sessions by guest speakers like ESPNChicago reporter Missy Isaacson, yoga instructor Becca Sykes, and NBA legend Sidney Green, and improving their skills, confidence and basketball I.Q.
The Coolanu coaches underwent intensive training sessions prior to and throughout the camps, led by Tamir. Using his revolutionary instructional Jewish Coaching DVD filmed by award winning Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin, Tamir spoke about ways for coaches to incorporate Jewish values, Israel education, and effective coaching techniques to help athletes reach their potential as players while strengthening their Jewish identity and connection to Israel.
Thanks to the support and guidance of the iCenter, which provided the grant and resources that made the Coolanu Chicago camps and seminars a reality, and the professionalism and expertise of Tamir, program director Diane Halivni, site director Alicia Honan and other staff including Michelle Blechman and Andi Gutnik, Coolanu Israel succeeded in reaching its goal of creating a world class Jewish basketball camp where basketball, as a unifying language, brought together campers of all backgrounds.
Blechman, a marketing consultant for Coolanu, reflected on the camp’s success. She noted that Coolanu Israel enrollement exceeded the initial goal of 120 campers and that the “Chicago-area camps helped create new benchmarks for Coolanu Israel, including a new logo and promotional materials and new levels of sponsorship and community involvement.” In addition to the iCenter, some of the other sponsors of the camps included: The Community Foundation for Jewish Education, BBYO Connect, Camp Ramah, Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago, B’nai B’rith, Duece Brand Watches, and more.
At the conclusion of the camps, Tamir said that being able to offer top level Jewish basketball camps is “especially heartwarming because as a kid, most of the time I was the only Jewish athlete at the basketball camps I attended. This has been a dream come true to offer kids the opportunity to grow without having to compromise on either the Jewish or basketball components.” Goodman added that he is thrilled that the coaching seminars are providing the next generation of Jewish coaches with tools to have a positive impact on the physical and spiritual development of athletes. The campers, coaches and parents all gave the camp rave reviews, describing their Coolanu experience as “unforgettable”, “life-changing” and the “best blend of Judaism, Israel and basketball.”
It is Goodman’s hope to bring the proven success of the Coolanu Israel camp model to different communities across America. “We learned from our Chicago camps that Coolanu brings more than just top level basketball training to communities. The camps provide opportunities for the entire spectrum of the community to be involved in strengthening kids’ Jewish identity and love of Israel, and in helping them to build confidence, foster communication, and develop important skills that will serve them on and off the basketball court.”
Coolanu’s camp reunion will be on April 26th at the United Center.
ABC News Clip: