Aug. 27, 2009
By Stephanie Hayes
Having started in all 19 games in his first season as a Knight, Yaron Bacher has certainly represented on the UCF soccer team. Ranking fifth in C-USA and first on the UCF team in shots with 44, Bacher made a name for himself, while also becoming a leader on the field. It is no wonder that he was chosen to represent the United States at the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel this past summer.
Begun in 1932, the games are intended to create a forum where Jewish athletes can come together in an effort to expand not only their athletic knowledge and ability, but also to enrich their knowledge of the religion itself and the culture that accompanies it. Bacher was not new to these games when he attended in the summer of 2009. He made the trip four years ago, but due to illness, was unable to gain the full experience he would have wished to. This time around was a different story.
"This time around was a lot better," said Bacher. "I stayed healthy, made a lot of good friends, got in touch with my religion a little bit more, as well as my culture, and obviously got to play soccer which I love. It was a great experience."
With his father, uncles and cousins there to support him, Bacher played on a team with a wide range of talented players from across the nation. A mixture of college and professional players comprised the U.S. soccer team, who were, according to Bacher, the clear favorites.
In his words, "We were a very good team with very good players. We did underachieve, but individually, I felt I did well."
Off the field, Yaron not only had the opportunity to support other teams from other sports across the games, but also the opportunity to take in the rich culture that exists in Israel, something that clearly means a lot him. One memorable experience for Bacher involved going to the newly redone Yad Vashem, the holocaust remembrance museum that stands as a lasting memorial in the nation. "That was very touching," Bacher said.
Bacher has come back to UCF for his junior year much more knowledgeable and ready to play. Learning from his professional teammates, including roommate Andrew Rosenband of the Chicago Storm, has given the athlete a new perspective on the game. The experience, he says, has helped him to not get as frustrated and angry as he used to and just relax.
"I learned a lot of mental things, both on the field and off the field. Lots of little things that I think will really help my game," Bacher says. In terms of what he feels he has most improved on this past summer, he states "calming down."
It is easy to see that Bacher is primed for another great season here at UCF. With this experience under his belt, he will definitely be one to watch on the field this year.