TIB Newsletters

June 2020 TIB Newsletter

Dan Aronovic - Thursday, July 02, 2020

Israeli Athlete Update in the Age of COVID-19   


For the last 10 years, the June issue of The Israel Bridge newsletter highlights the athletes that have graduated in the the past month. I usually post pictures of proud athletes in caps and gowns surrounded by happy families.  But due to the virus that plagues our world at this time, traditional graduation ceremonies were scrapped for Zoom recognition of 4 successful years, and to tell you the truth I really didn't know how to portray such an event.  We are certainly proud of the graduates this year and wish them the best of luck in the years to come.  

Since we are without any current news of the Israelis in college sports, I thought I would interview a couple of the outstanding athletes we have worked with to see how they are doing in the current situation.  We will return at the end of August with an introduction to the new crop of freshman that will start school in September 2020.


Interview with Daniel Butael, University of Michigan

Daniel Butael is a junior on the track team at the University of Michigan.  He is one of the top triple jump/long jump athletes in Israel and has lettered in Track & Field at the U of M for the past 3 years. He is a Computer Science major at the school and was interviewed on June 30th.

TIB:  What have you been doing for the past few months?

DB:  They cancelled the Spring season (my big season for the triple jump and long jump) in mid-March and school went on-line after that.  I'm still in Ann Arbor off campus in an apartment as I rented for the entire year and I planned to take summer school courses as well.  I just finished the first part of the summer semester and the second part starts on July 1st.  I have been working on my YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbcXp8CcZe52_C4NPYRbvjQ

which includes videos on Japan and Japanese which really interest me.  I also put together my resume:  https://butael.com/resume.pdf   It highlights my coursework in Computer Science and some of the Machine Learning and algorithm projects that I have done on my own.

TIB:  How are things going with training?

DB:   I’m staying in shape, working out, but we aren't going to have competitions for a while.  I thought at one point that I would try for the 2020 (now 2021) Tokyo Olympics, but now I have set my sights for 2024 in Paris.

TIB:  How was finishing up school this year? 

DB:   I had a tough academic semester because of the heavy courses in Computer Science that I have been taking this year.  But my GPA is 3.1 and I am trying to take advantage of all the aspects of being a student at the University of Michigan.  I'm finding it is important to try and enjoy not just the academics but also the many things going on here.

TIB:   What is going on for September?

DB:   There will be some classes in-person, some on-line as far as we know right now.  Sport-wise only football is back training for the Fall, the swim team is coming back next week, but as of today our coaches don't know about when the track team will start practice.

TIB:  Will you be graduating next May?

DB:   Yes, that is the plan.  I will come back to Israel at that time because I have been away from my family for a long time.  I'm hoping that I can get professional athlete status in Israel after I finish school which will allow me to train for the Paris Olympics, but if I don't get it I will look for work in the high tech field in Israel.

TIB:   Have you had any problems with racism in the US? 

DB:    Truthfully I don't feel it at all.  They ask me sometimes if I am Latino as I have darker skin.  I was once stopped by the police because I needed to go get a license plate from the Department of Motor Vehicles, but I explained the situation and didn't have a problem.



Who We Are:

Ross Greenstein, former Scholarship for Athletes President and Founder of The Israel Bridge

Dan Aronovic, Head of Operations, The Israel Bridge

Our Vision:
The Israel Bridge will work to be the largest resource for connecting and developing relationships between Israelis and Americans.

Current activities:
Finding athletic scholarships for deserving Israeli athletes in the US. We have helped over 170 athletes attending schools like Harvard, Princeton, Northwestern, Ohio State, University of Washington, Cal-Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Maryland, UNLV, Rutgers, Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, University of San Francisco and many others.

Visit our website for more info:






          Map of Israeli Students in the US




Editors note:  Adva Cohen is the top middle distance runner from Israel and competes for the top-ranked University of New Mexico women's track team. She is a junior and majoring in General Management. Adva qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in the 3000m Steeplechase and was recently named NCAA All-American during the winter track season. She was interviewed on June 29th. 

TIB: How have you been getting through this time period?  When did you leave New Mexico?

AC: We had finished the track indoor season and were in the middle of getting ready for the National Indoor Track Championships at the end of February when the meet was cancelled.  It was confusing because I needed to keep training for the Outdoor season, the European Championships and the Olympics.  We went on Spring Break at the beginning of March and were told that the one week of break would be extended to 2 weeks.  At that point, we found out that the European Championships were cancelled and the Olympics would be moved to 2021. Then it became obvious that school would go completely on-line as well, so I went to visit my friend in Nashville, TN and took classes remotely.  I left the US at the end of May, had to quarantine in a hotel in Jerusalem for 2 weeks, and now I'm at home getting ready for the Israeli National Championships while I take summer school classes from University of New Mexico.

TIB:  How is training going?  Do you automatically still qualify for the Olympics in 2021?

AC:  I have continued training, working on the parts that I wasn't able to focus on as much like strength and weight training.  We have some meets coming up in Israel and next week I will be in my first competition since the end of February.  There are invitationals and league meets here Israel that lead to the National Championships in August.

With regards to the Olympics, the top 45 women in the world qualify in my race (the 3000m Steeplechase) and I am ranked between 21 and 24 right now.  I can also qualify with my time, but without official meets that is hard to do.  I had qualified with my time previously and I will try to see what my level is like after the upcoming competitions in the next month or two.

TIB:  What was the on-line learning experience like?

AC: I really like the on-line learning experience.  When you are training and have to go to class, you have to schedule your life around the classes and being physically in the seat.  But with on-line classes I can listen to the lectures when it suits me and it makes life easier.  Right now I am taking 4 week summer classes from home in Israel—I just finished a class recently and I have another one starting soon.  It also has affected my grades for the better—last semester I ended up with four A's and a B because I was able to focus better on my academics.

TIB: What are the plans with school going forward?  They usually want you there in August for Cross Country training, right?

AC:  Nobody really knows what the situation is.  I have heard that some coaches have asked their athletes to be back at school in August as usual, but others that have told athletes to take a semester off until the situation clears up.  My coach at New Mexico hasn't come up with plan just yet on what we should do.  It looks like the Fall cross country season will be cancelled, but that isn't official.  Another factor are the protests that are taking place in the US.  I heard that there were some demonstrations in Albuquerque after the George Floyd killing and statues that were taken down.  The university wants to make sure we are in a safe environment before allowing us back on campus, which is understandable.

TIB:  Any other interesting ways this whole experience has affected your life?

AC: I try to look at everything in a positive light.  I was able to do well academically because of the on-line classes, reconnect with my friends and family and take a little break from an intense training regimen. Even when I got back to Israel and had to quarantine in a hotel for 2 weeks, I managed to find ways to train and work out.




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