This JSport team participated in the Pitch for Israel tournament this summer. [Photo courtesy Mattea Wintre]
A few years ago, Mattea Wintre was looking to get involved in athletics in the Jewish community, but she found there was nothing available, not even in co-ed sports.
She could have joined the Toronto Central Sport and Social Club, an organization that does offer co-ed as well as women’s sports, but eager to actively participate in athletics with her Jewish peers, Wintre decided to create JSport.
Its third softball season recently came to an exciting conclusion when the green team rallied for three runs in the bottom of the10th inning to capture the championship game at June Rowlands Park, at Mount Pleasant Road and Davisville Avenue, in Toronto. The league’s six teams played on Wednesday nights beginning at the end of May.
In forming the city’s only social, co-ed Jewish sports league for people 18 and older, Wintre has given young Jewish professionals and Birthright Israel alumni an opportunity to strengthen their connection to the community through sport.
“I was looking for something Jewish to participate in and get involved in the community,” said Wintre, who led a couple of Birthright trips. “I thought sport was a great way to do that.”
Having enjoyed sports throughout her life and having worked with Parks and Recreation Ontario, Wintre has always believed that sport and recreation can be used as a vehicle for personal development. She sees her organization in much the same way.
Growing up, she attended United Synagogue Day School before enrolling in the performing arts program at Earl Haig Secondary School, where she majored in dance. Wintre went on to study kinesiology at York University, spending a year at Hebrew University along the way.
She runs the daily operations of Jsport and gets help from her dad, David, who came out each week to umpire the games.
“The best part of this is not the games, it’s the post-game, seeing the kids talking to one another, staying in contact with one another,” he said.
This year, there were close to 100 players in the league, with a waiting list of others eager to get in. A men’s team was formed in August as Jsport submitted an entry into the Pitch for Israel tournament held at Camp Robin Hood, an event that raised money for Jewish families living below the poverty line in Israel and Toronto.
Jsport will offer its second season of indoor beach volleyball beginning in January at Beach Blast.
For more information, visit www.jsport.org.