A Note from the Director of Athletics:
One of my goals is to increase the number of student-athletes each year while also creating a true student- athlete culture of connection felt by everyone involved throughout the journey. Increasing the fan support from students, parents and friends is something that I will strive towards as well. Creating greater school spirit towards athletics and implementing the idea of person before player, and where “we” makes, “me” stronger, is very important. Person before player and life over sport are both a reminder that YULA Girls Athletics will always place greater value on who the individual is off the court vs. what they can do on it. Trust, sacrifice, selflessness, team, accountability, responsibility, passion, and joy are just a handful of traits that we are hoping to instill in your daughter throughout their athletic experience at YULA Girls.
Director of Athletics
As an LA native, Ms. Novak grew up in Agoura Hills playing Volleyball, Basketball and Softball for Agoura High. She received her BA in Communications and Psychology from San Diego State University and her Masters Degree in Athletic Administration/Sports Management from Indiana University Bloomington. Novak was a Division 1 college athlete competing on the Women’s Rowing team at SDSU. She also spent some time studying in Israel at Neve Yerushalyim in Har Nof.
The Majority of her career has been spent in both college and professional athletics. She worked at UCLA in Recruiting and Special Events for athletics and at Pepperdine as the Manager of Sales and Service for their athletic department. Following her time in College Athletics she spent 5 years working with the LA Clippers in Sales and Service where she created Jewish Heritage Night. The 49ers was her next stop working with a professional team and the Super Bowl before she came back down to LA to be the Manager of Premium Sales for LAFC. For over a decade she has held many positions with the JCC Maccabi games from being a basketball and soccer coach to the delegation head, which is the position she currently holds. Competing in the games herself is why she wants to help recreate her experience with the games. Novak is also an adjunct professor teaching online course in Sports Management for Indiana University. Additionally, she is a Sports Consultant for Camp Moshava Alevy in Running Springs. Her vision is to make sure any girl who wants to compete on an athletic sports team has a chance to do so at YULA Girls High School.
Varsity Volleyball Coach
After spending almost 6 years in the University of North Carolina at Pembroke athletics department, I am excited to join YULA Girls Volleyball! I had served 3 seasons as an assistant volleyball coach prior to transitioning into administration in 2015, where I oversaw 16 varsity teams as the Associate AD for NCAA Compliance and Senior Woman Administrator.
As a former member of the NCAA DII Claflin volleyball team, I hope to bring a wealth of volleyball knowledge to YULA having coached in various capacities for 13 years. I have served as the head volleyball coach at 3A Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, 3A Orangeburg Prep School, and was the assistant coach at 4A Century High School; having helped lead the Diamondbacks to a 4A Idaho State Championship in fall 2011. I have attended the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic in Colorado Springs and was active in the USAV Girls’ High Performance Tryouts as both a Court Coach and Evaluator each year from 2009-2013.
Having my ACE Certified Personal Trainer certification, I hope to grow our student-athletes not only in the aspect of volleyball IQ, but additional aspects of nutrition, mobility, and strength. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the overall growth in student-athletes from the start of the season through the end. I am a 2009 graduate of Claflin University, having earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management along with a minor in business administration. I earned a master’s of physical education with an emphasis in athletics administration from Idaho State University in 2011.
JV Volleyball Coach
Have you ever believed in something so passionately that’s changed your life and ultimately your perspective on how you see the everyday details? Volleyball has done that for me. As I continued to compete throughout high school, winning 3rd place at the State Finals as a captain, I learned about self-discipline and work ethic, knowing results directly reflected my effort and diligence. During club season, as a captain my junior and senior year, we qualified for Nationals, earning 4th in the National Bracket both years. At Elmhurst College, my team went to the NCAA Division III Final Four, ranking #1 in the nation that season; these seasons forced me to come face to face with my biggest weakness, teaching me to creative problem-solve and pay close attention to the details. When playing at any level and at any age, volleyball can teach many lessons if you pay attention. I work to continue to foster an environment that allows my student-athletes to excel fundamentally but also inspire confidence, allowing the individuals to accomplish more than they thought they could.
Varsity Flag Football Coach
Coach Demetrus McCray has 20+ years combined both of playing professional football and basketball as well as coaching in all age groups, including varsity high school, collegiate levels, internationally, semi, and professionally. He played defensive end for two different teams in the NFL practice league. Coach McCray led the East Texas Timber Rattlers, an arena-pro football team, to the first ever international championship game in Mexico. His long list of accomplishments include training and aiding the first American football player from Colombia to get signed to a professional football team in the US, launching the first ever ladies tackle football team in Colombia, aiding a school outreach program in Santiago, Chile, coaching the Honduras team to a winning football game against Guatemala in the 2018 Central America Bowl to just name a few. He is also the recipient of the Diamond Award from the Jamaican American Football league, the Excellence Award from the Italian Parliament during the American Football World Summit in Santiago, Chile, and recipient of the highest award of Honor from the Colombian Military for Mac Sports Football development in Cali, Colombia in November 2018.
Women's Varsity Soccer Coach
I was born and raised in Jerusalem, and was a professional soccer player in the Women’s League and on Israel’s National Soccer Team. After suffering an injury I was forced to quit and decided to pursue my dreams as an actor and educator. I completed my national service as a counselor for homeless youth at risk in Tel Aviv, and then moved to the U.S to pursue my Bachelors in Theater at California Institute of the Arts. I am thrilled to join the YULA Girls family and to share my deep passion and love for soccer. As athletes we gain tools that will change our life, such as confidence building, team work, overcoming challenges, and developing a strong sense of self and responsibility. I build practices that focus on fitness, technique and strategy, using tools that simultaneously develop team building and healthy communication. My coaching technique is rooted in mutual respect. I believe that if a player enjoys their training, feels valued and respected, they will want to invest more in the sport and have a higher success rate. I am excited to build a powerful soccer team with YULA Girls, and to give each player the positive experience I believe every teenage athlete should have.
Women's Varsity Soccer Coach
Jeremy enthusiastically accepted the invitation to join YULA Girls serving as co-coach of the varsity soccer team with Coach Noga Wind. He has spent the last 20 years coaching soccer to youths as a volunteer and private instructor. Jeremy’s passion for soccer began at a young age, helping him develop the appreciation for teamwork, and the importance of a strong work ethic. As a teenage soccer player, he represented Los Angeles at the 1992 Maccabi games in Baltimore, MD. Jeremy continued to play collegiately at Los Angeles Mission College, and then in several semi-professional leagues following graduation from San Francisco State University. He currently plays in several community games a week in Santa Monica, and referees for AYSO. His commitment to the love of this beautiful game is to share it with as many people as possible.
Prior to joining YULA Girls, Jeremy was a sports programming executive, having spent time at Tennis Channel, serving as the Head of Programming responsible for the acquisition and scheduling of nearly 7500 matches annually on the company’s linear and digital platforms. He also served as Vice President, Programming at FOX Sports from 2007-2013, responsible for the scheduling and business relationships with the company’s college sports partners at the Pac-12, Big 12, Big East and ACC conferences.
Jeremy currently lives in West Los Angeles with his 10 year old son Henry, and their one year old cat, Ahsoka Tano.
Varsity Basketball Coach
Olden Polynice was born and raised in Port au Prince Haiti. He later immigrated to New York city with his family. Entrepreneur and Humanitarian. Polynice is a former national Basketball Association (NBA) player who spent 15 years in the league. In 2005 Polynice started NextStar Basketball a company that coaches and trains High School, College and NBA players. His collaboration with the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund helped increase awareness and support for Haitian relief after the 2010 earthquake.After high school he decided to attend the University of Virginia where he led them to the 1984 Final Four in his freshman year as the starting center. He left school after his junior year to turn professional. He played 1 year in Italy and then was drafted in 1987 by the Chicago Bulls. He was later traded to the Seattle Sonics for Scottie Pippen.
Polynice says “hard work, dedication and attention to details” as well as his mantra of No Excuses, Just Results were keys to his success before, during and after basketball. He is looking forward to helping to turn around the YULA Girls program with Tyus!
JV & Varsity Head Swim Coach
Hi! I am a Mom of 2 with a passion for swimming. I have been teaching swimming lessons for over 17 years and a coach for more than 13 years. I remember learning to swim and those moments are invaluable to me as an adult. I’ve swam competitively and I currently compete in Olympic distance triathlons. I’ve been a swim coach for many different teams- YMCA, USA age group teams, k-8 private club teams, and this is my 10th year coaching YULA. I have designed swim programs in different areas of the country and my swim school, Revolution Swim School, is a leading school in the L.A. area. I love swimming-I teach a lot of fear based students as I have a degree in psychology & use therapeutic techniques to overcome fears to swim safely & effectively through the water. I also love coaching. It brings me joy to see individuals working hard and smashing their goals.
Varsity Cross Country
I grew up playing soccer, but quickly became a multisport athlete. I also played basketball and competed in track and field. Running track is where I discovered my passion for running. I am a recent graduate of the University of San Francisco with Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a Minor in Child and Youth Studies. While studying, I had the opportunity to intern with the national non-profit Girls on the Run where I trained pre-teen girls to perform a 5k in addition to administering a social-emotional curriculum. I also had the opportunity to assist with the track and field team at the University in conjunction with assisting the strength and conditioning staff with teams like tennis and cross country. I’ve always wanted to work with youth, especially if it’s being active. There is so much character development involved in sport, and specifically a lot of mental toughness that is gained in a sport like distance running. My goal is for these young ladies to have fun and become stronger as individuals as well as athletes.