Four new sports figures will be inducted into the Orange County Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 27, at the Merage JCC. This event honors outstanding Jewish sports figures that have played a significant role in shaping the sports history of Orange County. A highlight of the event is the selection of a male and female youth scholar/athlete chosen from a field of local Jewish high school juniors and seniors.
The Dinner of Champions includes a VIP reception, athlete presentation, sports memorabilia auction and High School Scholar Athletes of the Year awards ceremony. Leigh Steinberg, superstar sports agent and 2006 inductee, will be the master of ceremonies. The Orange County Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is designed to raise the profile of Jewish sports heroes and heroines in Orange County and to raise funds for the Merage JCC’s youth sports programs.
The 2011 Orange County Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inductees are:
Barry Asher} Bowling
Santa Ana native son Barry Asher holds ten career titles from the Professional Bowlers Association beginning in 1966 with a double win at both the Southern California Open and the Crescent City Open in New Orleans. His 1971 South Bend Open 247 average for 42 games was a PBA record for 10 years.
Asher’s outstanding bowling career earned him induction into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1988. In addition he holds four titles from the American Bowling Congress and was honored by that organization for his achievements in 1998. He was the bowling technical advisor for the film The Big Lebowski.
Asher is a 1978 inductee into the Orange County Bowling Hall of Fame and a 1984 inductee into the Southern California Bowling Hall of Fame. From 1996 to 2001 he won 19 West Coast Senior Bowling Titles. He was named Senior Bowler of the Year three times. Asher has been honored with induction into both the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (1990) and the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame (1998).
“This is my seventh Hall of Fame and the third Jewish Sports Hall I’ve been inducted into, and the all have special meanings,” Asher said. “To be selected at this time is important for me, as well as the sport of bowling. Something like this can only help make people look at professional bowling in a different light. I am extremely proud of my bowling accomplishments and was always proud to be the only pro bowler from Orange County who was Jewish. When the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame was organized, I was hoping that someday I would be a part of it, and I’m happy that day is coming.”
Alan Dolensky} Basketball
Also an Orange County native, Alan Dolensky earned All-League basketball honors as a sophomore, junior and senior at Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove. In his senior year, he was All-CIF, averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds per game.
At the University of New Mexico, Dolensky was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week in his freshman year (for scoring the winning basket to upset #20 Wyoming). As a Lobo junior in 1983, he was voted New Mexico’s Best Defensive Player. In his senior year, he earned Most Valuable Player honors for leading the Lobos to a 24-10 record.
An outstanding scholar as well as a top athlete, Dolensky is one of the university’s all-time scorers and rebounders and holds the record for most minutes played in a season. Dolensky later played professionally in Europe and Israel.
Dolensky is a three-time Maccabiah Games basketball medalist, winning gold medals in 1981 and 1985 and a silver in 1989. He was USA Maccabiah Basketball Captain in 1985.
Gabrielle Domanic} Water Polo
Gabrielle (“Gaby”) Elise Domanic (born February 24, 1985, in Orange, California) is an American water polo player, who won the gold medal with the USA Women’s Team at the 2003 FINA Women’s World Water Polo Championship in Barcelona, Spain.
A graduate of Foothill High School in Santa Ana, Domanic was a four-time CIF Division 1 champion. Playing for the USA Youth National Team Women’s Water, she was a silver medalist in the 2000 Nor Am Tournament in Montreal, Canada. She was a 2001and 2005 gold medalist in the Junior World Championships in Perth, Australia, and 2004 MVP at the Junior Pan American Games El Salvador, San Salvador. A left-handed shooter, she plays in an attacking role. At age seventeen she was one of the youngest players at the 2002 FINA Women’s Water Polo World Cup.
In 2004, Domanic was an Olympic team member alternate at the Games in Athens, Greece. During her university career at UCLA from 2004 to 2008, she helped lead the team to four consecutive national championships. She was a 2007 Member of UCLA’s 100th National Championship team.
Domanic said, “Initially I was surprised when I found out that I was nominated to be inducted into the OC Jewish Athlete Hall of Fame. But once the surprise wore off, I felt both honored and privileged to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and to be recognized for my athletic accomplishments. I have always found strength in my spirituality and comfort in my Jewish identity, and I hope that I can be a role model for other young Jewish athletes and inspire them to work hard to achieve their goals and dreams academically and athletically.”
Benny Feilhaber} Soccer
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Benny Feilhaber was six years old when his family settled in the New York City suburbs where he played for the local soccer team, the Scarsdale Lightning and won the New York State Cup for the U-12 division. When his family moved to Irvine, he attended Northwood High School where he was a standout midfielder on the school’s soccer team. He also played club soccer for the Irvine Strikers, winning various youth national titles.
Feilhaber played college soccer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he became a mainstay in the Bruins’ midfield. After his second year at UCLA, Feilhaber was called up by the U.S. U-20 national soccer team to play in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. He served as a member of Peter Nowak’s squad for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he appeared in all three games.
Feilhaber played in 3 of the four matches for the USA team in the FIFA World Cup in 2010. In April 2011 he signed with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer after spending nearly three seasons with Denmark’s AGF Aarhus.