By Sammy Schwab
Many of my parent's friends who I bump into at the JCC all ask me, “What is next”?
My answer is astoundingly simple, "EVERYTHING!”
Everything is what is next. I may be a senior and graduating from high school, and ultimately the JCC in some respects, however, my shot clock is just starting. It is just the beginning, and not to sound so cliché, but here is why. Everything I learned in this building from the ELC to my incredibly influential 7 years at the Silver Academy, to BBYO/AZA events, community events like Purim and the book fair, to all Sports and Fitness (flag football, swimming, 5Ks, and mostly basketball programs) helped shape my DNA. This building and all the mentors that have supported kids during their development inside, helped evolve who I am, and often, the choices I make.
I am grateful that my childhood was spent in this remarkable building. It may be somewhat nondescript on the outside, but the inside teaches education, values, Jewish heritage including Tzedakah, and the importance of family and community. I value my community greater than the individual and ultimately strive to leave things better than I found them.
Coaching Iddy Biddy where I started my basketball career 15 years ago is the perfect example of giving back to something that had an impact on you. Each volunteer coach wants to give back to the program that they were lucky enough to be a part of. They want to leave an impression on those wide eyed 4-6 year old kids that cannot wait to be moved up to the big-sized baskets. I love every Sunday because of what Coach Terri Travers instills on the basketball court 7 days a week. It is compassion, empathy, and do not think for a second she forgets competitiveness. I used to be surprised that she was not standing and screaming like most middle and high school coaches. It took me a while but ultimately understood she was teaching us to learn and make independent decisions as a team, versus being spoon-fed what to do at all moments. Teaching us to be leaders vs. only being led. She instilled the world's best recipe for success.
Ultimately, my message is to sign your kids up for as many programs as you can at the JCC. They will be surrounded by good people that care for them, and often teach them things that you would want to reinforce. They will learn to leave something better than they found it. As I head to college in the Fall and become a member of an additional community, I cannot wait to get involved academically, socially, and in athletics. The famous saying, "All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten" is true in some ways, but what is also true is, "Everything I learned at the JCC, is who I am today."
Sammy Schwab is heading to The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania this Fall.