JewishHoopsAmerica.com presents the “Where Are They Now” series. This series explores the current events of past Yeshiva League stars.
Josh Stern, Ramaz Guard/Forward, Graduated 2005
I played with Josh for many years and one of the things that stood out most was his jump shot. No one had a smoother jumpshot than Josh. Either off a screen or leading the break, he was just about automatic from mid range and the moment the defense would look for Josh to pull up and shoot, that's when he'd either cross over and drive to the basket or find an open teammate for a layup.
|2005 Yeshiva League Champion Ramaz Rams
Although his basketball idol is Allen Iverson, you would never know it on the court. Josh was one of the most selfless players; always looking to make his teammates better. I often had to remind him to look for his own shot.
Whether in camp, on our Maccabi team, or on Ramaz, playing with Josh was always a pleasure because you knew your team had a great chance to win.
- Zack Berg, Point Guard and Captain for the Ramaz Rams during Josh Stern's 2003-2004 season.
From the moment my older brothers put a ball in my hands, I have loved the game of basketball. And believe it or not, I love it more now than I ever have. When I was in 10th grade in Ramaz, the other captains and I were asked to move up to Varsity. After much conversation, we chose to stay and try to win the first JV championship in Ramaz history. We ended up losing to HAFTR by 1 point in the 2003 JV Finals, which was painful, and stung bad as they were a fierce rival. In our Junior year, we also had a great team, but we choked in the Semi-Finals and let a 20 point 3rd quarter lead slip away to Flatbush to lose the game.
Many of my high school teammates in Ramaz had been a unit since the age of 5. We had amazing chemistry. We had tons of fun. I also see now what I could have done differently back then. If I had the same knowledge then as I do now, I would have been a very, VERY scary player to compete against. I would have added to my skill level an extra level of intensity to intimidate my competitors. This is something that I have added to my game recently and it makes the game that much more enjoyable.
Winning the Championship in 2005, during my Senior year, was a ridiculous experience. Not only had Ramaz not won a Varsity Championship in 41 years, but we were one of the least fan-favorite teams in the league, constantly being booed in opponents gyms. The week before we won the Championship, we had played the same team we faced in the league Finals, but faced them in the Sarachek tournament at Yeshiva University. We lost by 30 points and my co-captains and I were benched the entire second half for our lackluster performances. Chants of “over-rated” and loud booing filled the gym. This only made winning the next week when it really counted that much sweeter.
When you're playing competitively in high school, you don't think about how those years will be the best basketball days of your life. The coaches and alumni tell you, "cherish these moments, you won’t get too many more of them." But when you’re young, you just want to get on the court and play. Their warnings of disappearing youth go in one ear and out the other.
For us Yeshiva kids, dreams of playing professional basketball drift away after a certain age. Sure, we’ll join a league or two after high school and college, but it's never the same. When you’re playing in high school, you learn and grow as a player every day. You learn how to play with your teammates, who should and will become a second family to you. There is truly nothing better than that.
I just graduated from the Hospitality program at Boston University and I'm now working for a real estate development company in Manhattan. I play pick up basketball 2 nights a week, and
practice/train/warm-up for a good 45 minutes before. I work out twice a week as well. My favorite time of the day is when I'm on the court, with nothing on my mind except the game I'm playing, the game I love.
If I could suit up again for Ramaz today, I'd be out there faster than a blink of an eye, so to all you youngsters playing today, don't "cherish" it, because nobody listens to that garbage. At the same time, you better realize that you may never, ever get a chance to play basketball like this again. Get out there as much as you can, practice until your arms hurt, run and workout and shoot the ball until you drop from exhaustion. Look at the fans that come to watch you play and appreciate the gift you have been given. Play as hard as you can for that season, that game, that play.
- Josh Stern, Captain, Ramaz Rams
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