There’s a little ritual before each time the Tigers of Denver Jewish Day School take the basketball court.
“It gets everyone calmed down a little bit and excited for the game,” says junior Andrew Zimmerman.
Yep. The Tigers belt out “Everytime We Touch.” When meeting a visitor at Strear Family Gymnasium during a recent practice, a couple of the players respectfully decline to belt out a rendition of the song. What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room, of course.
“It’s worked for as long as I can remember,” says junior Gavin Foonberg.
For the most part, the ritual — call it superstition, if you must — seems to work. DJDS won the Colorado 1A division title for the first time in school history, beating arch-rival and defending district champ Belleview Christian on Feb. 26.
“That was just pure bliss,” says Matan Halzel, who played for DJDS 10 years ago and is now one of the team’s assistant coaches. “There are no words that can describe how many alumni and fans of this school that have been waiting to see that moment.”
Winning basketball teams often refer to themselves as “family.” This team really is. The team’s longtime head coach is Michael Foonberg. His son Gavin, along with Zimmerman, was named to the 1st team all-division. A core of the team has played together since they were five-year-olds.
“This class is definitely very special because of all these kids I’ve been coaching since they were little kids,” says Michael Foonberg.
“I’ve been coaching at least half the team since kindergarten.”
“They know how to play ball,” Foonberg continues. “They have high basketball IQ, they play together, and they really have great chemistry.”
“I grew up sitting on the bench by my dad, watching the games,” says Gavin. “To actually be a part of this, not just watching it, is pretty special.”
In the wake of the district title win, the buzz at DJDS was palpable. Alas, on March 3, the Tigers were beaten in regional play in Grand Junction by Caprock Academy. A potential state title run was crushed in abrupt fashion.
Regardless, a 17-3 season has no one singing the blues.
Halzel: “It’s a very special time here when we’re successful and when we’re competitive, and when the kids are all smiling and laughing and having fun.”
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