From England to Oak Park, Frankel Jewish Academy freshman Ben Taylor-Abt loves connecting with others through soccer.
Featured photo courtesy of Rick Dorn
Ben Taylor-Abt is wise beyond his years.
Perhaps it’s because he’s a world traveler. Born in London, England, in 2005, he’s lived with his family in Boise, Idaho, from 2008-11, Israel from 2011-16 and now Oak Park.
Perhaps it’s because of his love for soccer, which he has played at the club level including the Berkley-based South Oakland Soccer Club and this fall with the Frankel Jewish Academy team.
“Soccer is more than a sport. It’s a way to connect with others,” said Taylor-Abt, a 14-year-old FJA freshman.
“Each person on the team is important. That’s why I’d recommend the sport to other Jewish kids. Soccer is for everyone. Race, religion and ethnicity aren’t important. Soccer culture is known as the universal language.”
Taylor-Abt had a solid rookie high school season with FJA, which finished 6-6. The only freshman on the team was named to the Catholic League All-League team.
“Ben was a center attacking midfielder,” said first-year FJA coach Cobi Clark. “Our attack ran through him, which is a lot of responsibility for a freshman. When we scored, it usually was because of a key pass from Ben. He was one of the most skilled players on our team.”
Taylor-Abt said center midfield is his favorite position in soccer because he has the job of setting up teammates for goals.
“It’s all about the team effort in soccer. Passing the ball helps ensure that our team is working as a unit,” he said.
Taylor-Abt started his soccer career as a defender.
“But as my understanding of the game improved, I moved to midfield,” he said. “Playing midfield has allowed me to use more creativity in my game.”
Playing for FJA this fall both with and against older players was a blessing and challenge for Taylor-Abt, who is 5-foot-8 and weighs about 130 pounds.
“Being on the team with older players allowed me to get to know Frankel students I wouldn’t necessarily have gotten to know,” he said. “Playing against older players has motivated me to work harder at my game, to make myself a better player.”
That improvement needs to continue for Taylor-Abt to reach his ultimate soccer goal of playing the sport in college.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “But as long as I’m able to play soccer, I’ll continue to play. I love soccer. It’s a passion.”
So why has Taylor-Abt lived on three continents in his young life?
That’s where jobs have taken his mother, Rabbi Abi Taylor-Abt.
She’s in her fourth year as the education director and principal for the Yachad Religious School, a pre-K through high school partnership of Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park.
Gideon Taylor-Abt is Ben’s father and Ben has four older siblings — Eitan, 29, Gidon, 27, Roni, 25, and Yael, 20.
Ben attended Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills from sixth through eighth grade before going to FJA.
He’s enjoyed his short time at FJA both on the soccer pitch and in the classroom, where he’s in honors classes.
Ben is one of five FJA soccer players who were honored by the Catholic League.
Senior center defensive midfielder Will Bloomberg and sophomore striker Benji Schmeltz made the All-Catholic team, junior center defensive midfielder Ari Patrich made the All-League team and junior defender Daniel Klausner made the All-Academic team.
Bloomberg was a captain and someone coach Clark could count on at all times.
“I’m in health care sales and I travel throughout Michigan,” Clark said. “If I was going to be a few minutes late for a practice this season, I knew I could call Will and he would get things going. Our team didn’t have a big roster, so we couldn’t afford to have people getting hurt at practice if they hadn’t warmed up properly.”
Schmeltz scored most of the Jaguars’ goals.
Patrich is a player with talent and heart, Clark said, and a motivator who also was a team captain.
Klauser, a center back, anchored FJA’s back line.
“Daniel is a brute on defense,” Clark said.
Clark, 23, said he enjoyed his first season coaching FJA even though he wasn’t hired until July after learning about the job opening in June.
He moved to the Detroit area from Ohio in April.
“Everyone at Frankel has been very welcoming and the kids on the soccer team are great,” he said.
Clark played soccer in high school and college in Ohio.