IFL News

Jeremy Sable goes from Philly to the Middle East

Thursday, December 2, 2010  By Mike Prince  Sportswriter

Cheltenham graduate Jeremy Sable lines up on the offensive line for the Tel Aviv Sabres in a football league in Israel.

Jeremy Sable

With high school football games being played almost always on Friday nights – which, in the Jewish religion, is known as the Sabbath, or “Shabbat” – Jeremy Sable was unable to remain on the football program following his freshman year of high school.

Growing up in a Jewish home, Sable, 23, was brought up by his parents to follow his religion, which prevented the Northeast Philadelphia-born and Cheltenham High School product from playing the sport he loved so much and participated in while on the freshman team.

Sable wrestled in eighth grade, but with most of those matches also coming on Saturdays, Jeremy had to find another sport. After ninth grade, his parents forced him to stop playing football and to choose a sport that didn’t interfere with his religion, which is when Sable turned to baseball.  Even though Sable played baseball for his final three years of high school and was one of three captains on the team, he still wanted to play football.  Now, several years post-high school and after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2009, Sable is finally able to fulfill that desire and play the physical sport that he loves so much.

Sable moved to Israel in October 2009, where he initially went solely to earn his masters degree in counterterrorism at the Inner Disciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. But one day, in class, Sable met someone who opened his world up to something he never knew existed. A friend and classmate – who just happened to also be from the Philadelphia area, a graduate of Lower Merion High School – told Sable about a football team called the Jerusalem Lions and eventually put him in touch with the Tel Aviv Team. “Within a week, I was at one of their practices and within two weeks, I was starting for them on the offensive line,” Sable said. “I decided to stay in Israel just so I could play another season. I was living a dream and still am. I never thought I’d be able to play football game (after ninth grade).” Sable said that he believed that his football career was “over” following his first year at Cheltenham, but that all changed after leaving the country for what he thought would be just for an education.  Now, in order to stay in Israel and play football, Sable is working at an English-speaking customer support for an online casino. “It’s certainly not the job that I would have chosen, considering I have an MA in counterterrorism,”Sable said, “but it’s worth it. It’s a small sacrifice to stay and play.”

Last year, Sable’s team went 9-1 in the regular season and then went on to win the championship against the Jerusalem Lions, which just so happens to be the team on which Sable’s friend who helped him in the league plays. They practice twice a week in a local park and have games about once every two weeks. The team is very close. They eat together, drink together and some of them even live together. Last week, on Thanksgiving, all of the team got together at one of the coaches houses for dinner, which even included Israelis with no ties to America. “I’ve played on sports teams in America all of my life and I have never seen team commodore and love for one another like this,” Sable said. “Whether someone else finds this intriguing or not, I know how unique and fantastic we are.”

In addition, the Lions’ quarterback is the son of Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli Chief of General Staff, which is the equivalent of Admiral Mullen, the United States’ chairman on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Sable. “When Ashkenazi does attend games, he’s accompanied by five or six Israeli Secret Service personnel at all times,” Sable said. “It’s truly a sight to see.”

While many of the teams have strong ties to America, with multiple players in the league being American-born, the large majority of all the players in the league are native-born Israelis. “It’s funny,” Sable said. “I’m essentially a foreigner because I’m an American living in Israel, but on the football field, I’m like a local. I’m the defensive captain out on the field and it’s like I’m back in Philly, but I’m actually in the Middle East. I’m a player, but at the same time, I’m a teacher. I may not be a collegiate athlete, but I bring so much more knowledge than all of the guys have, so when they’re playing alongside me, they look at me like a teacher. Even at that small level of football I played in America, it’s years of experience more than a lot of what the guys in Israel have.”

Sable said he’s working full-time so that he can stay and play football. While he went there for education and has a dream to work for the American government some day, his visit to Israel is open-ended and his stay there, as of now, is indefinite. “I’m thinking about alternate options right now,” Sable said. “I’m contemplating staying here, but my parents support what I do and while I have a dream to work in America doing what I went to school for, I came here for education and essentially found my third family and it’s great. My coach is from New York. There are three or four Americans on the team and even though I miss my neighborhood, I try to make my life all the same here.”



URL: http://www.montgomerynews.com/articles/2010/12/02/sports/doc4cf5e2de3b583295115374.prt

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