Getting to Know the Athletics Director

Gabrielle Ostad ’21

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The stars are shining bright heading into the upcoming 2019-2020 school year with Coach Eli Katz as the new Director of the Athletic Department. As students are eager to learn more about the head of the Athletic Department, Mr. Katz, has been working tirelessly throughout the summer to prepare for his new role. He is beyond excited to meet each and every Ramaz student and continue the success and growth of Ramaz athletics.

The Rampage interviewed Coach Katz to learn more about his background in sports since his childhood and new initiatives he has been working on to enhance the Ramaz Athletics experience.

Gabrielle Ostad: Where did you grow up?
Mr. Eli Katz: I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland.

GO: What sports did you grow up playing?
EK: I come from an athletic family. My dad is a basketball coach and has coached UMBC and Goucher College. Growing up, I would go to games with himand critique the film alongside him. This exposurelead me to know more about sports at an earlier age. Growing up, I played basketball, baseball, football and lacrosse.

GO: Where did you go to camp?
EK: I went to sports-intensive camps—specifically basketball ones. Alongside various sports camps, I went to Camp Shoresh in Frederick, MD and ultimately ended up working there. Also, at the age of 15, I was given the opportunity to coach at Sports Star Academy.

GO: Where did you attend high school?
EK: I attended Beth Tfiloh High School.

GO: What was your main sport in high school?
EK: Basketball and lacrosse. I was the captain of both of those teams. However, during high school I tore my ACL while playing sports.

GO: Did you attend Yeshiva in Israel?
EK: Yes I did. I went to Yeshivat HaKotel for two years.

GO: What college did you attend?
EK: I attended YU for college. Because I tore my ACL, I was not really considering playing ball in college. As time went on, I was lucky enough to join Coach Steinmetz and the YU staff as an assistant coach at Yeshiva University for the men’s basketballprogram for my third and final year.

GO: What’s your favorite food and color?
EK: My wife tells me I have the palate of a 5 year old. My favorite foods are mac and cheese and pizza. If I am eating meat, I guess steak. My favorite color is navy blue—you will almost always see me in navy blue. Lucky for me that is one of Ramaz’s colors!

GO: What led you to this job of being the head of the Athletic Department at Ramaz?
EK: I have always been involved in athletics. Couple that with Ramaz being second to none in the Jewish World. It is an amazing group to be apart of! We were moving to NY soon regardless as my wife’s profession lead me to New York, and Ramaz knew about me from the position I held at Yeshiva University.

GO: What new initiatives do you hope to bring to the Athletic Department at Ramaz? What sport are you most looking forward to teaching?
EK: The Athletic Department had something greatbefore I came, and I hope I am able to fill the shoesthat have been left for me. While I will not be coaching a gym class, my full focus will be making this athletic department the best it can be.

GO: What are your thoughts on the US Women’s World Cup Victory? And what are your predictions for the upcoming NBA season?
EK: I think the win of the US Women’s Soccer Team did great things for our country! It is always a pleasure seeing our country succeed in whichever competition they enter. It is no different when it comes to US Women’s soccer. I love when the US succeeds. The US has been so great to our people, it behooves us to cheer them no matter the circumstance. The US winning is a win for the Jews in my mind! This win also shows how far women’s sports have come which is great.

In terms of initiatives, I have created the process of “streamlining” or “ladders” which I feel most students will be excited about. It allows there to be expectations in terms and skills to be known by the athletes on our sports teams at a certain grade/levelof play. With this initiative, students finishing eighth grade will have an understanding of every concept they need in high school to comprehend the level of play.

After speaking to students, I have heard that Spirit Night is a student body favorite. I know that over the years, there has only been one spirit night, so I am trying to work with students to implement more spirit nights. We hope to raise funding to make these events possible. I really want to make these nights a special experience both for the players on the team and of course for the fans!

Additionally, I am creating the Sports and Spirit Committee. This committee will be made up of students who will spread the school spirit to other students. When students engage others, it creates a more personal relationship enhancing the spirit over all! These are just some of the many new ideas I am working on. Also, I always welcome any new and exciting ideas from the student body as well!

GO: What sports teams will you be coaching?
EK: I will be coaching Boys Varsity Basketball and the Boys Baseball Team for this coming year.

GO: What is some advice you can give to the students both on and off the court?
EK: Two pieces of advice: First, athletics teaches you much about life. My philosophy comes from my dad: Athletics do have rules, and there are high standards and expectations for you which can make you better people if you work and follow the standards set forth by your respective coaches.  Also, anything worth anything requires hard work. If you put in the hard work, you will reap the benefits. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

GO: What are your favorite professional sports teams to follow?
EK: I follow baseball, football, and prefer college basketball. My favorite baseball team is the Seattle Mariners, my favorite football team is the LA Rams, and my favorite college basketball team are the UCONN Huskies. I realize these teams are all over the map—it is a bit of a long story but there are reasons why I like these teams.

GO: What are your thoughts on the US Women’s World Cup Victory? And what are your predictions for the upcoming NBA season?
EK: I think the win of the US Women’s Soccer Team did great things for our country! It is always a pleasure seeing our country succeed in whichever competition they enter. It is no different when it comes to US Women’s soccer. I love when the US succeeds. The US has been so great to our people, it behooves us to cheer them no matter the circumstance. The US winning is a win for the Jews in my mind! This win also shows how far women’s sports have come which is great.

With regard to the NBA, Lebron and Anthony Davis are a dangerous duo. I think Kawhi and Lebron are the best players in the league. As an aside, I love the way Luka Donjic plays! If I had to say the top teams of the season: I would go with the Lakers, Clippers and Bucks—no surprises here.

GO: What impact do you hope to make on the Ramaz community?
EK: I want to make sure everyone understands how athletics truly do make people better. I want the students to realize that athletics has the ability of accomplishing the Ramaz philosophy of menschlichkeit in a different light. I want people to leave this athletics program better than they came in—both in skills and more importantly as people.

GO: What additional insight would you like to leave the students with?
EK: I am really excited and can’t wait for this year! I am so excited to meet you guys! I want to see each of you reach your potential and see you guys happy!

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