As seen in The Legacy Project: The Eyes of Our Ancestors: A shared vision made real at East High School, recently I met Shawn Dunwoody at the unveiling ceremony of his 29 close-up portraits of significant individuals and leaders of color.At the East event, we talked about another of his murals I recently discovered. In 2017, Shawn created a portrait displayed at the Jewish Community Center in Brighton: Dave Rogachefsky, “Coach, Mentor, Friend,” featuring Dave’s passion for floor hockey, an enthusiasm shared for over three decades, continuing as a volunteer in his retirement.
Shawn offered the back story of the portrait. Dave never knew about the project; Shawn had to work from photographs and his imagination.
Finally, at an event honoring Dave, Dave was asked to come to the entrance of the gym where so many floor hockey pucks have bounced across the wooden floor. When the secret was revealed, Dave, a modest man and a true representative of Tikkun Olam, was overwhelmed.¹
When photographing the painting, I was intrigued by the signature. If Dave was unaware of the project, how did Shawn obtain his John Hancock? Did someone at the JCC retrieve a birthday card autographed by Dave? Shawn emailed back: “I don’t remember. Lol.”²
To learn more about Dave Rogachefsky’s legacy, I turned to Brendon Wadach, JCC
Youth Enrichment & Adult Leagues Coordinator.
Dave retired a few years before Brendon joined the JCC staff. (Not that Dave ever really retired as he continues as a volunteer coach). Nonetheless, Brendon quickly learned that for over four decades Dave was the leader and architect of youth sports and recreation at the JCC.
One of Dave’s favorites was floor hockey, mentoring multiple generations who played in his leagues. As his players mastered stick handling and goal tending, Dave was omnipresent and ever patient. Back in my time, the love of floor hockey instilled by Dave found its way into Brighton High School where, in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, the sport was our favorite P.E. activity — worthy of cafeteria bragging rights.In some ways, Dave’s legacy lives on in the evening adult floor hockey, launched a couple years ago by JCC staff and now organized by Brendon. The night I visited the play was high-spirited, competitive and fun. And who was there? Many of the same fathers and sons who learned their stick handling and goal tending from Dave.
¹ Reader Karen Nozik writes:
Playing floor hockey at the JCC under Dave Rogachefsky was one of my brother Mike Nozik’s favorite activities as a kid. He played with some of his lifelong best friends as I recall. I was very moved to see Dave at Michael’s funeral in 2009. His presence there spoke volumes. Thanks for this story. Brought back a lot of fond memories.
² On February 1st, Jim Marsh, currently serve on the JCC Board of Directors, wrote:
I read your piece on Dave Rogachefsky. I was responsible for helping to honor Dave at the JCC Gala that year and ended up finding Shawn Dunwoody who agreed to do a mural. I worked closely with Shawn for several weeks going to his studio and bringing him photos of Dave that I collected and telling him stories of Dave from my memories of the JCC and Camp Seneca Lake. Shawn was able to create a mural that captured the essence of Dave and his passion for the JCC and floor hockey in particular. Dave’s signature actually came from a floor hockey certificate of mine for the 1970’s which Shawn was able to copy perfectly.
ANOTHER ATHLETIC TRIUMPH BY A JCC MEMBER
MORE ON THE JCC