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On Sunday, April 7, Ethan Falkowitz and Drew Hassenbein were honored posthumously by the JSHA. (Image courtesy of JSHA)

Roslyn Athletes Taken Too Soon

Remembered by Jewish Sports Heritage Association

Ethan Falkowitz and Drew Hassenbein were only 14 years old when they were killed in a horrific crash. Before a wrong-way drunk driver took their lives in May, 2023, the boys were rising tennis stars and exemplary young members of the Jewish community. To remember their achievements and honor their loss, the Jewish Sports Heritage Association honored the pair with a posthumous award during the organization’s 2024 Induction Ceremony at Temple Israel in Lawrence. Ethan and Drew were recognized with the Michael Freedman Outstanding Jewish Male High School Athlete of the Year Award.

The Michael Freedman Outstanding Jewish Male High School Athlete of the Year Award is given to that Jewish teen(s) who best epitomizes those attributes that were exemplified by the late Michael Freedman — academic achievement, athletic accomplishments and extra-curricular participation. Presenting the award was Alan Freedman, Director of the Jewish Sports Heritage Association.

“[These boys] were taken from us way too young. As a parent, and as a human being, this hurts tremendously. I don’t have the words to describe how I felt… Ethan and Drew should have been getting this award as high school seniors, and they probably would have received other awards as college athletes. But they weren’t just great tennis players; they were truly outstanding young men who were taken from us way too early. We know there was so much more for them left to accomplish in their lives.”
T.J. Freedman, the son of Michael Freedman, stated, “When I read about Ethan and Drew I felt it imperative that we recognize and honor of these two young men, who accomplished so much in such a short time and were taken from us way too soon. We honor the memories of Ethan and Drew, let us not forget them.”

The Ethan Falkowitz Foundation

Not only did Ethan make the starting lineup of the Roslyn High School Varsity Tennis Team as an eighth-grader, he was also on his way to consideration for valedictorian in four years. At an early age, Ethan understood the concept of earning results through hard work and realized that reaching one’s potential required focus and determination and that it would not be given to you just because you want it.

At 14 years old, Ethan was already volunteering to help underprivileged children learn tennis. He was already helping his friends in school on subjects that were challenging them. He was already putting smiles on faces, even if they didn’t know they needed it. He already knew the power of asking questions rather than assuming answers.
Something exceptional about Ethan was his tremendous inner confidence. He didn’t brag or boast in any way. But his inner confidence gave him a unique ability to bring happiness to others, to selflessly love others, to encourage them to be their best selves. He would raise people up, compliment them, call them by their first names and know things about them and their families.

He made people feel like their lives mattered, like they mattered, whether through his playful gestures of giving them nicknames, remembering them from elementary school and saying “Hi” in the hallways or on the streets, or being the first to start a congratulatory cheer for someone. He found reasons to help, he found reasons to celebrate, he found reasons to encourage…all with an ease and grace, and without the need for credit, that made him so remarkable.

The mission of The Ethan Falkowitz Foundation is twofold; first, to introduce kids to the world of tennis, empowering them with opportunities to excel, boosting their confidence through the sport, and instilling the importance of preparation and dedicated practice in their journey to success. Second, to nurture empathy, kindness, and genuine friendships, while spreading happiness to others and upholding the highest standards of integrity, creating a better world through our actions. For more information, or to find out how to donate, visit the foundation’s website at https://ethanfalkowitz.org/

The Drew Hassenbein Foundation

Although tennis was very important in Drew’s life, he also had many other things in life that he greatly valued and cared about.

Most importantly, Drew was a very family-oriented person. He was a very lovable and bright kid to be around and his good energy was contagious to those around him.

The best word to describe him was that he was simply a doer. If he was ever sitting around just relaxing he thought he was doing something wrong.

One of Drew’s standout attributes was his kindness and compassion toward others. He had a genuine concern for the well-being of those around him and always went out of his way to lend a helping hand. Whether it was offering a comforting word, assisting with a challenging task, or simply being a friend, Drew’s empathy and understanding made a lasting impact on everyone he encountered.

In summary, Drew was an outstanding individual with a brilliant mind, a compassionate heart, a strong work ethic, boundless creativity, and a natural talent for leadership. His positive influence on the world and the lives of those around him will always be remembered and cherished.

Drew Hassenbein had a dream of becoming a professional tennis player. He started playing tennis at age 5 and winning international tournaments age 7. Hassenbein became the United States’ number 1 ranked player for boys 12 and under in February 2021. Drew believed he must practice and train every day to be the best that he could be. His mantra was, “I don’t collect trophies, I collect hours; hours of hard work!”. He was a fierce competitor and left it all on the court.

Drew was a champion, he made a positive impact on all those who knew him. A young tennis legend gone way too soon.

The Drew Hassenbein Foundation, dedicated to Drew, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization helping expose underprivileged children to the sport of tennis, sponsoring elite juniors, and helping aspiring pros to become the next USA tennis champions. For more information, or to find out how to donate, visit the foundation’s website at https://drewhassenbein.org/

—Additional information provided by The Ethan Falkowitz Foundation and The Drew Hassenbein Foundation

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