My Life As A Benchwarmer

04/29/2015 - 1:30pm
Some of my toughest choices include cheering on the team or streaming ‘Orange is the New Black.’

The author is dressed to not play. She's wearing a custom baseball cap with her number, 32, and the SAR Sting logo on it. Courtesy Doria Leibowitz

Multitasking — no high school student can succeed without it. Studying for a Talmud test while eating lunch and doing your history homework, no problem. Preparing for the math quiz while davening Mincha — please, you were doing that in third grade. But the ultimate trick is what I do 10 times a year and more for playoff games (God willing): make productive use of my time while being the backup goalie on my yeshiva’s floor hockey team.

So as I stare down the court, listening to the squeaks of sneakers rubbing against the floor, I think about my choices: watch the game, cheer on the team like a good teammate should or go on my phone and contemplate whether or not the Wi-Fi is strong enough to allow me to write my history paper and stream “Orange is the New Black” at the same time. The decision is always tough, but ultimately I try to make the right choice and do all three, at the same time, of course. So while screaming and jumping up and down, I have one eye on my history textbook —reading about George Washington crossing some river in the freezing cold — and my other eye on my phone, while I try to hack into someone’s HBO GO account.

Trust me, even for an experienced yeshiva student, being a productive benchwarmer isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. It requires cleverness, slyness and, of course, the ability to multitask. It is a complex, choreographed endeavor that begins with pre-game planning and even a walk through during warm-ups.

First, as in most sports, positioning and footwork are the keys. History binders, lab notebooks and Shakespeare all have to be stowed in a location easily accessible, yet out of the coach’s line of vision. Road games can be a nightmare; often there are no boards or glass to hide behind. That’s why pre-game scouting is of utmost importance. Always look for grandmas at the game near the bench; they always have lots of pockets and bags. I’ve stuffed several lab notebooks and calculators in their purses during my years. Even better, they can never figure out their phones and are all too happy to give you passwords in exchange for taking a picture with their granddaughter. Three out of four grandmas have Amazon Prime for easy streaming of movies (I think I owe some of those grandmas $4 for the movies).

Junior year brings SAT prep and college applications into the mix. Thinking of a plan to get SAT flashcards to the bench is one of the most exciting parts of the game, especially when you enlist your teammates’ help. Those hockey helmets have a huge amount of space between your hair and the top of the helmet. I would say 15 flashcards fit with straight hair; curly hair reduces the number by half.

All in all, being a benchwarmer isn’t as bad as you’d think. Yes, I’m forced to go on a long commute to Long Island just to sit on the bench, but at least I don’t feel like I’m losing out on precious and useful time. That’s the beauty of being able to multitask: You can cheer on your team while studying and hiding your flash cards from your coach, and don’t forget that endless level of Candy Crush. That’s what being a benchwarmer is really all about. While I do look forward to being the starting goalie next year, I have learned a lot from being a benchwarmer, and I even enjoyed my time.

author's bio: 
Doria Leibowitz is a junior at SAR High School in Riverdale.