Testimonial: Sam Trojano (Gap Year ’19-’21)

Sam Trojano participated in the 2019-2020 ILA Gap Year Program,

If, at any previous stage of my life, you’d told me I’d end up playing lacrosse in Israel, there’s not a chance I’d believe you. Not for a second. I grew up with little to no Jewish identity and I come from the kind of town where I’d mention I’m “Jew – ish”and kids would either give me a weird look or make some sort of joke at my expense. I barely knew Israel existed. I knew it only as the setting for “Don’t Mess with the Zohan. “So, as you can imagine, I had no clue what I’d signed up for when I decided to live in Israel, but I knew it’d be different, I knew I’d be out of my comfort zone, and I knew I’d have an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. I spent most of my time in Ashkelon, the southern coastal city and homebase for the Israel Lacrosse Association. As well as playing, I’d also been given the chance to try my hand at coaching and introducing the game to kids on school visits. Both were very new to me and didn’t come naturally in the slightest. But I gave it my best shot and enjoyed seeing the game from a different perspective. I enjoyed seeing the kids play with an infectious joy and curiosity, falling in love with the game just as I had at their age. On the other hand, I had the chance to gain some professional experience as well through leadership development programs, graphic design, broadcasting, and fundraising for our new field which is the first lacrosse – specific facility in the Middle East. I also was lucky enough to have some free time to explore the country and my other interests. I took up Krav Maga and cooking, started surfing and going to services, and even hiked some of the Israel National Trail.

Beyond all this, the most notable part of my experience has been, without a doubt, the sense of family here. Throughout the entire country and within Israel Lacrosse specifically, from top to bottom, we care about each other. From the jump, I was met with open arms. Shabbat dinners, Hebrew lessons, lending anything I might need, whatever it was, everyone played a part in helping me get settled and showing me the ropes. I was also more than lucky to spend time with the very smart and experienced people who set the foundation for Israel Lacrosse. I wanted to hear their stories and soak up as much information and guidance as I could, not just in terms of lacrosse or Israel, but life in general. Being one of the younger in – country Americans gave me an opportunity to watch, listen, and learn from those who came before me and hopefully, down the line, Ican provide similar opportunities for those who will come after me. I came to Israel a dumb and quiet kid, and maybe, most likely, I’m still that same kid. Only now, I’ve got a few more stories to tell and a few more friends to tell them with. It has been the honor of my life to wear the blue – and – white and I look forward to my future in Israel.

Sam Trojano

Gap Year 2019-2020