LIVINGSTON, NJ — Heritage Middle School health and physical education teacher Shyella Mayk, a five-year Livingston resident, was recently inducted into the Israel Softball Association Hall of Fame at this summer’s Maccabiah Softball Award Ceremony.
According to Mayk, she was given this honor for teaching fast-pitch softball to women of all ages in Israel, for transforming the women’s league in Israel from slow pitch to fast pitch, for founding the Women’s Israeli National Softball Team, for her athletic excellence on the field and for representing Israel in past European championships as well as the Maccabiah Games.
“It was a major honor for me to be inducted into the Israel Softball Hall of Fame,” said Mayk, who thanked the Israel Softball Association and the coaches, umpires, and her teammates for their support and dedication to improving and expanding women's fast-pitch softball in Israel.
Recalling an interview question she received in 1996 as her high school senior year softball season was coming to a close, Mayk said she was quoted in the newspaper declaring that she hoped to one day play softball in the Maccabiah Games in Israel and pitch for the Israeli team, even though a women's fast-pitch team did not exist yet.
After making Aliyah to Israel in 2000 on her own and finding the ISA's women's slow-pitch softball league, Mayk said she realized there was a desire among the women to learn fast-pitch softball.
“I ran practices for all of the teams, mainly teaching them how to steal and bunt, and organized a ‘Fall-ball learning season,’ where I pitched for both teams during the games so all the players could face fast pitching,” she said.
In the spring of 2002, the women's league played with fast-pitch rules and paved the way for a women's national team, according to Mayk. Since then, the Women's Israeli National Softball Team has consistently competed every other summer in the European Championship games, every fourth summer in the Maccabiah Games, and for the first time in the Surrey 2016 World Championship.
“I have been so fortunate to able to combine my love for Israel and fast-pitch softball, and I intend to stay involved and play as long as I can,” said Mayk, who added that creating the opportunity for girls and women to play in Israel will always be important to her. “The women on our team have become close friends over the years and to have my sister, Liati Mayk-Hai, on the team for several years made the experiences even more special."
Mayk said she was honored to have her mother, Nissan Mayk; sister, Liati Mayk-Hai (also a Livingston resident and teacher at Golda Och Academy); brother-in-law, Doron Hai; and close friends, Rebecca and Shai Kimchi, attend the award presentation ceremony in Israel this summer. Her husband, Amit, and their two sons, Lahav and Negev, were also able support her at the event.
Mayk has been a middle school health and physical education teacher for Livingston Public Schools since 2007. This year, she was selected as the Health & PE Middle School Teacher of the Year for New Jersey.
In addition to her passion for softball, Mayk also enjoys hiking, skiing, 5K races, indoor rock climbing, silk painting, sewing and other forms of arts and crafts. She resides in Livingston with her husband and their two sons, who are approximately 3.5 years and 5 months old.
Mayk is pictured above with her award and her team, along with some action shots of Mayk playing the sport she loves.