Women’s Soccer Team Coach Fired Unexpectedly
Gabe Haber, former head coach of the women’s soccer team, was terminated from his position earlier this month.
In an email sent to the soccer team players on December 19, Athletics Director Joe Bednarsh unexpectedly informed the team that Mr. Haber was “departing his position as head coach” of the women’s soccer program.
Reasons for his termination remain unclear. Many soccer team players are upset by Mr. Haber’s departure and frustrated by what they consider faulty communication between administrators and the players.
On December 21, the coach held a meeting with the team, telling them he was sorry to leave and that it was “the hardest thing” he has had to do.
Players on the team recall Haber’s final farewell to them as being wrought with emotion and hurt. His three years as coach fostered a close team-coach relationship that will be hard to replace.
Mr. Bednarsh and the team held a parlor meeting on Thursday, December 29. At the meeting, the Athletics director seemed to imply that Haber fell short when it came to recruitment, despite the team’s assertion that the expectations for such a task were unrealistic for any coach to achieve, and that Haber might not have been given a fair chance at success.
Mr. Bednarsh said recruitment is one of the most important responsibilities of a coach. Coaches are charged with reaching out to exceptional high school athletes to sell them the idea of playing sports for Yeshiva University, a university that people choose for a gamut of reasons, athletics not usually among them.
The Athletics director was adamant that Mr. Haber was not fired due to the team’s poor record during the fall 2016 season. Women’s soccer entered the offseason at 1-14-0.
At the meeting, players brought up the unfavorable circumstances the women’s team faces on a daily basis. The women’s team had to travel longer to practices than the men’s team had to, the women’s team didn’t always have a trainer present at practices, players did not receive women’s-sized uniforms, and busses were not large enough for transporting the whole team.
Mr. Bednarsh responded that this was the first time he was hearing of these problems and that he would do all in his power to fix them.
Athletes on the women’s soccer team describe Mr. Haber as “dedicated” and “passionate”. They laud his commitment to the betterment of the team and his insistence on equal treatment for the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Team member Liorah Rubinstein attributes Haber’s attitude with leading the team to its most victorious season yet.
"The team had nearly zero wins until Gabe came. Since he's been here, we've had nine wins. That doesn't just happen. It's the product of a serious and committed coach who knows how to build a team.”
Teammate Shoshi Wyszynski echoed this sentiment. She added that according to many of the players, it seems like Haber’s firing occurred for “no apparent reason,” as he was a perfect coach.
Mr. Bednarsh refused to comment as to why the coach was fired, citing a policy not to address personnel issues. “We are committed to the future and the academic and athletic success of the women’s soccer program”, he responded. “We are starting a national search for a new coach who will place an emphasis on recruiting talented student-athletes to the program and be committed to the athletic development and personal growth of the student-athletes.”
The coach position of the women’s soccer team is notoriously ever-changing. Haber’s three-year stint at Yeshiva University is lengthy when compared with the coaches who preceded him.
According to the YU Macs website, Mr. Haber came to YU in 2014 after being the assistant coach of the men’s soccer team at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the time, Mr. Bednarsh said, "Gabe is going to be a wonderful addition to the program. He brings with him experience on many levels of soccer and will no doubt quickly put his stamp on this team." The Athletics director cited Mr. Haber’s experience “developing both technical and tactical training” and thought there was “no doubt that we will see the benefits of that on the pitch."