Reflections of a Div III Basketball Fan

This is the time of year we all reflect on who we are, where we are with our life, and what we are doing to get to the next step in our life journey. As a rabid sports and basketball fan, I often think with great pride about my university’s path to achievement and excellence.

For Yeshiva University, athletics were never the subject. The basketball team usually had very little talent compared to the other Division III teams in the Skyline Conference. For most teams that would face off against the Yeshiva University Macs, it would be an almost guaranteed win. But that has all changed in the past few years, with a team that is filled with the most packed talent in Division III. The whole school has shifted and the team pride and spirit are at an all-time high for the university. It isn’t just a school sensation for a basketball team, but it is a national and worldwide sensation, gaining coverage all across the globe.

There is only one Jewish college in all of America that possess a spot in the NCAA, Yeshiva University. They might be in Division III for almost all sports, but it doesn’t stop the coverage they get for their games. It is almost as if the whole Jewish community in America and Israel have joined together to root for their athletics.

As a student of Yeshiva University, I was shocked when I entered the college and found that the school takes its athletic program earnestly. The school’s student-led newspaper features the basketball team on their cover page in every edition, the school’s official social media page consistently reshares articles and scores for the team’s matches. There is huge pride that this small school, comprised of no more than 3,000 students, has on a Division III basketball team. 

But there is a reason why we buy into this basketball team and it’s not because of school spirit, parties, or even to serve as an outlet for our academic studies. It’s simple, the guys wear Yarmulkes on their heads, and the Israeli anthem is being played before games. Those guys on the court are not just playing to win, they play for their people. They have recognized that they are the most followed team in Division III because they are the “Jewish team.” They have taken this and have run themselves to 47 wins, the longest win streak of any team in college basketball. This is the number one ranked team in Division III.

There are four Division I capable players, all of who have played for major universities like Indiana, or received offers from Duke. The team’s star player Ryan Turrell was just the subject for an ESPN article, where they write that he may be the first NBA player drafted directly from Division III.

This is a journey of a lifetime for the guys on the court and the guys watching.

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