Written by Director of Advancement, Anna Price (May 11, 2015)
I’ve discovered that one of the most rewarding things about working at the JCC is getting to know lots of interesting and inspiring people. One individual who’s right up there at the top of my list is Frank Miroff. Now retired, Frank was a leading Indianapolis litigation attorney for many years. Remarkably, Frank’s memories and the stories he has shared with me about the JCC span more than 70 of our organization’s first 100 years.
Although Frank served on the JCC’s board a couple of times, when I asked what his favorite memories of the JCC were, he did not respond with an anecdote about his board service. Instead, somewhat to my surprise, Frank’s stories (and there were several!) revolved around activities, team sports, and friendships formed during his childhood at the JCC.
During our conversations Frank recalled the name of the JCC staff member who taught him to swim. With a delighted laugh he rapidly reeled off the names of all the members of his softball team the year they won the Midwest championship, several, like Frank, pillars of Indianapolis for decades. But clearly, the story Frank relished above all others was the one he related about winning the national JCC volleyball tournament.
“Don Kleiman organized a JCC team to play in the National JCC volleyball tournament that was held in St. Louis when I was a youngster. We hadn’t been playing the game for very long and were clearly out of our league. When we arrived in St. Louis, we could see that all the other teams were very good. The St. Louis team was especially really good. They’d been at it much longer than we had, you see. They even had matching t-shirts that looked really great. We didn’t. We just wore whatever we had. The only thing we had was more nerve than talent, but that was enough! We won the national tournament!”
After talking with Frank, I realized that for him and others of his generation, the JCC was the place where they learned how to be team players, where they gained self-confidence, and where they learned how to be graceful winners and losers. In short, Frank’s stories made me realize that during its first 100 years the JCC had been the place youngsters, regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status, had learned how to be the kind of adults our community needed. As a result of Frank’s conversations with me, now as I walk through the Early Childhood Education areas and the After School Care wing, and as I watch a group of kids engage in a pick-up game of basketball or youngsters receive their first swimming lessons, I know that as the JCC begins its second century of service to the Indianapolis community, it will be a place where youngsters, regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status, will still be able to learn all they need to know to become the kind of adults our community needs. It’s a good feeling!
Update: Frank Miroff passed away September 18, 2020. May his memory be for a blessing. In the Frank Miroff obituary, the family asks that “memorial contributions may be made to the ACLU, WFYI, Indiana University, St. Vincent Foundation. Also, please hug an aging former softball player in his memory.” If you’d like to make a contribution to the JCC in his memory, visit the JCC’s Donation page and check the box to Dedicate this Donation.