For head coach John Stuper, the three Bulldogs’ selection to the roster is a fitting recognition of both their talent and their work ethic.
“Wow. How great is this? So proud of all three of them,” said Stuper. “Three of the most talented guys I’ve coached here, but all three combined that with a phenomenal work ethic. Also three of the toughest competitors I’ve had, so I’m not surprised at all by this. They represented Yale with dignity and class. Now I’m hoping they get to represent Israel in the same manner.”
All three have played for Team Israel before. Brodkowitz and Wanger helped the team qualify for the Olympics by winning the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier Tournament in September of 2019. That duo was also part of a memorable run with the Bulldogs, as they helped Yale win Ivy League titles in 2017 and 2018. The 2017 team set the school record for wins with 34 and won a pair of games in the NCAA Corvallis Regional.
Brodkowitz, a native of Potomac, Md., went 12-5 over his final two seasons at Yale. In 2018, he was a unanimous first team All-Ivy League selection after he led the league with six victories without a loss in Ivy games. He earned the win vs. Penn in the 2017 Ivy League Championship clincher, allowing two earned runs in 5.2 innings.
Wanger, a native of Newtown, Mass., was an All-Ivy League selection both as a hitter (first team in 2017, second team in 2018) and as a pitcher (first team in 2018). In 2017 he also earned first-team ABCA/Rawlings All-Northeast Region honors and was first team NEIBA All-New England. He is now playing for the University of Miami as a graduate student.
Lavarnway was the starting catcher for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, helping Israel beat No. 3 South Korea and No. 4 Taiwan. He was named Pool A MVP and finished the WBC with eight hits in 18 at-bats.
Lavarnway is one of nine players with Major League Baseball experience on Team Israel’s roster. He is currently in the Cleveland Indians organization and played for the Miami Marlins last season, appearing in five games and collecting four hits in 11 at-bats.
The former sixth-round pick by the Red Sox made his MLB debut for Boston in 2011 and has also played for Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Oakland and Pittsburgh.
A native of Woodland Hills, Calif., Lavarnway earned multiple All-America selections at Yale. In 2008 he was a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award and the Golden Spikes Award. That season he led the Ivy League in home runs (13), RBIs (42), walks (29), slugging percentage (.824) and on-base percentage (.541), setting the Ivy League career home run record (33).
Team Israel will have its first training camp in May in Arizona and will then meet again in early July in New York, where it will play a series of exhibition games before flying to Tokyo for the Olympics.
This is the first time Israel will field a team in any team sport at the Olympic Games since 1976 (men’s soccer). Six national teams will compete in baseball at the Olympics. Four teams — Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Korea — have already qualified. The eight-team Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament will be in Florida this June. The winner of that tournament, hosted by the United States, will earn a bid to the Olympics. The second- and third-place finishers at that tournament will compete at the six-team Final Olympic Qualifier June 16-20 in Taiwan for the final spot.