(Photo by Jewish Sports Heritage Association)

Gus Ornstein To Receive Dr. Bruno Lambert Jewish Good Guy In Sports Award

The Jewish Sports Heritage Association is pleased to announce that Gus Ornstein, Director of Athletics at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, has been selected as the 2025 Dr. Bruno Lambert Jewish Good Guy in Sports Award recipient. The award will be presented to Gus at the April 6, 2025, Jewish Sports Heritage Association Induction Ceremony, held at Temple Israel, Lawrence, NY.

In 1994, Gus was redshirted while a freshman at Notre Dame when starting quarterback Rob Powlus was injured. In the eighth game of the season, Irish coach Lou Holtz called on Ornstein to play in the second half of what would turn into a 58-21 victory over Navy. Holtz said he played Ornstein, who went 2-5 for 21 yards with one touchdown and one interception, because he wanted Gus to get experience in case Powlus could not play the next game.

Powlus did play and Ornstein lost a year of eligibility. Ornstein later said, “I wanted to be redshirted…I was shocked when he (Holtz) called my name to go into the game. It was exciting to throw the touchdown, but then I started to think and realized what it meant…by playing in that game, I was no longer a year behind (Powlus) in eligibility. We both had three years left. Obviously, they were committed to him. I thought I could be the starter after he left…I didn’t want to be Ron’s backup my whole career.”

In the spring of 1995, Holtz gave Gus a release from his scholarship and Ornstein transferred to Michigan State. After sitting out a year, he played sparingly in 1996 as a third-year sophomore when the starting quarterback was injured. Against Louisville, Gus completed 21 of 37 passes for 237 yards in a 30-20 loss. Still, Ornstein did not see much action for the Spartans. In three seasons, he completed 43 of 74 passes for 512 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

In 1998, Ornstein left Michigan State and transferred to Rowan College, a Division III school in hopes of interesting NFL scouts. He said, “I spoke with a couple of NFL scouts who said that I needed to get out on the field, so I knew I had to look somewhere else.” Gus shined at Rowan, leading his team to a 10-3 record and spot in the Division III championship game. He completed 160 of 272 passes (59%) for 2,189 yards and 12 touchdowns and was nominated for the Melberger Award, given to the Division III player of the year. In the championship game, Gus completed 17 of 40 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown in a 44-24 loss to Mount Union; it was Mount Union’s 42nd consecutive victory.

The Dr. Bruno Lambert Jewish Good Guy in Sports Award is presented annually to that individual who best exemplifies the good in sports as personified by the late Dr. Bruno Lambert.
 “Gus is absolutely a good guy,” said Joe Algrant, Head of School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
 The  Jewish Sports Heritage Association is a not-for-profit education organization whose mission is to educate the public about the role Jewish men and women have played, and continue to play, in the world of sports, an area of Jewish accomplishment often overlooked.
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