Seoul American's Abramowitz playing a transition game
Jake Abramowitz’s hard work had finally paid off.
After being cut from the varsity basketball team in his freshman and sophomore years at Cypress Bay High in Weston, Fla., he made the team last winter.
But he was forced to move when his father, Army Col. David Abramowitz, got reassigned from Southern Command, near Miami, to Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, to assume command of the 17th Aviation Brigade.
“I was upset,” said Jake, now a senior forward for Seoul American High. “I really worked on my game as a junior to make the varsity squad. Florida was the best place I’d lived, I got really close to people, so it was kind of hard to leave.”
David Abramowitz, his wife Gloria and their three children, Leah, Jake and Kaila, have racked up serious frequent flyer miles over the years: Kansas, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Germany and Florida twice before arriving at Yongsan last July.
“I’ve moved all my life, so I’m pretty used to it,” Jake said.
But Jake said this move was especially hard to take. It entailed leaving “a really great coach” (Jason Looky) and resettling for his final year of high school.
Such is life for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools student. Just as the military always is on the move, so, too, are they.
Then there are mid-year transfers, such as those Brenden and Leonard Lynce faced last December.
One day, they played for a Chesapeake, Va., high school; the next they were wearing Kinnick basketball uniforms.
“It’s difficult, not only to move from one team to another but trying to settle into a new school, a new coaching system, a new country,” said Brenden, a senior forward. “It takes a lot of focus.”
Added Leonard, a junior forward: “Coach tells you one thing and you’re used to doing it another way because you still hear your old coach talking.”
Some students even find themselves relearning their chosen sport.
After two years of folkstyle wrestling at Hilton High, Wood had to learn international freestyle rules and moves, which stress more action and throws.
“You’re up every 15 seconds if you can’t work on bottom,” Wood said. “They stress more action, whereas in folkstyle, you could take somebody down and ride him out for a whole period.”
It’s no picnic for coaches, either.
“It’s almost like a new sport,” said Robby Rhinehart, in his first year as Kinnick’s coach. “It takes more heart to wrestle freestyle, because the action never stops.”
Coaches also find constant turnover an obstacle to building and maintaining a program.
“It’s a difficult situation,” said Abramowitz’s coach, Steve Boyd, who’s also coached at Robert D. Edgren in Misawa Air Base, Japan. “You begin to build a program around a player or two and lo and behold, they’re gone. On the flip side, you never know for sure you can have another good player come in the door.”
Boyd has been fortunate to have players such as Abramowitz, and Nino Etienne before him, who transferred to Seoul American in the fall of 2001 from Fort Hood, Texas.
Abramowitz’s father helped his son’s transition.
“His father tried to find out as much information on the school and the post as he could,” Boyd said. “He also wanted me to talk to Jake. We had about five or six e-mails back and forth. I put him in touch with a couple of players. That really helped.”
Boyd talked up the fact that Seoul American was the defending Far East Class AA tournament champion, and mentioned the exploits of Etienne, who just had transferred to Baylor University.
Abramowitz said his new coach “said they’d like to win another championship, and hopefully, I would contribute. That made me start working on my game more. I figured there was a lot of competition over here.”
On Yongsan, Abramowitz quickly hooked up with Falcons holdovers, such as guard Daniel Chicko and forward Luis Feliciano. They hung out together, played pickup games and entered a five-on-five summer tournament with Army company-level teams at Yongsan.
“He’s fit right in,” Feliciano said. “He’s got a good all-around game, he can go out and shoot the three and still come inside and post up. He’s outgoing. We have a good time with him. Very easy to get along with.”