Op-ed: We Waited 64 Years FOR THIS!!!
It was a Saturday night in early March. For some reason, the game was making me more anxious than any sporting event that I can remember. Some of the restlessness may have been due to the fact that I was already four days into a coronavirus quarantine. Even though the Macs were leading by enough such that Penn State-Harrisburg realistically couldn’t make a comeback, that didn’t stop me from stress-eating an entire large bag of Tostitos in the span of five minutes.
The Macs won, and advanced to play Randolph-Macon in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Division III Tournament. YU may have been riding a 29-game winning streak, but the task at hand appeared to be the most daunting of the season. Randolph-Macon was not only ranked third in the country, but they were also a defensive juggernaut, boasting top marks in efficiency and points allowed per game in all of DIII. The Yellow Jackets also had a winning streak of their own, having been victorious in 28 consecutive games on their home court.
Just five days after defeating Penn State-Harrisburg, the Macs embarked on the six-hour journey from the Five Towns to Ashland, Virginia. As the bus was pulling into the hotel parking lot, the team got the news that the road for the Macs had come to a screeching halt. What was on track to be a storybook ending for a fairytale season finished without the last few chapters even being written.
Everyone’s favorite member of MacsLive, Akiva Poppers, wrote an article after the first round of the Skyline Conference Championships titled “We Waited 64 Years for—This?”. In the article, Akiva shared his frustration with the YU fans, stating that they were mediocre in the Macs’ Quarterfinal matchup against United States Merchant Marine Academy. He was right, and thankfully people listened. The next two rounds that we covered at the Max Stern Athletic Center turned out to be the most electric atmospheres I have ever experienced in my time with MacsLive. I called the instant-classic semifinal game against Farmingdale State, and there were occasions where I literally was not even able to hear myself think.
Now, we can safely say that “We Waited 64 Years FOR THIS!!!”. Looking back, what a season it was. The Macs went undefeated on the East Coast of the United States. Their last loss occurred on November 9th, 2019 in California. To put the impressiveness of their 29-game win streak into perspective, the next time YU will even have a chance to lose again is November 7th, 2020. That’s 364 days. The Macs’ incredible talent and chemistry made it even more enjoyable to cover them. Their success directly translated into our success. It was an incredible year for the Maccabees, and that meant an incredible year for our crew at MacsLive.
The dust has settled, and I have finally come to terms with the fact that there will not be another game this season. Simcha Halpert won’t have an opportunity to break the YU record for points. Dani Katz won’t get the chance to make one last mind-blowing, heads-up play. Kevin Bokor won’t get his proper send-off after years of selflessness for this team. We won't get the chance to hear one last “WE WANT SAMMY!” chant for Sammy Mandel. We won't get another “Alluuuuuuuuuuuuuuf” cheer when Bar steps onto the floor. Team Rabbi, Tyler Hod, won’t get the final goodbye that he deserves.
To all of these guys, thank you. Thank you for your dedication, for entertaining us, and for bringing us joy in what has been dark times for the entire world. I think I can speak for the entire Jewish community when I say that we will never forget your time on the Macs, and we are forever grateful for all of the contributions that you made.
Additionally, there are so many people that must be thanked for contributing to all of the success MacsLive had this year. We broke records in virtually every statistic there is for our broadcasts and website content, with viewership through the roof. Thank you to Justin Safier, who has stuck with us post-graduation and handled everything we need on the tech side. Thank you to our Chief Content Officer, Akiva Poppers, who has become a YU folk hero and has totally changed how we create and output content on MacsLive.com and our social media platforms. Thank you to Vice Presidents Yehoshua Segal and Jacob Dauer, who have helped tremendously behind the scenes, and essentially become the voices of the Macs. Thank you to all of the members of MacsLive, whether you broadcasted, manned the camera, wrote articles, or handled social media.
I thanked the seniors on the team, but I also want to thank all of those who will be back next year for giving us an unforgettable experience this past season. Thank you to administrators in YU, including Athletics Director Joe Bednarsh, Greg Fox, Barry Neuberger, Yoni Cohen, and Senior Vice President Josh Joseph. Without them, nothing we do is possible. Most of all, thank YOU. Thank you for tuning in for our coverage of the Macs. Without you, we are just a couple of guys talking into a mic.
Also, the future of MacsLive is bright. I can promise, that just like this incredible Macs team, the best is yet to come for us. Stay safe, stay healthy, and have an amazing summer. See you next season.
David Schwartzman is the President of MacLive.