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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Portola High Alumnus Josh Steinberg Finds the ‘Key’ to Success Through Basketball

Portola+High+alumnus+and+Calvin+University+junior+Josh+Steinberg+celebrates+with+teammate+Charlie+Trey-Masters+after+winning+gold+at+the+2023+Pan+American+Maccabi+Games+in+an+open+men%E2%80%99s+3v3+basketball+tournament+in+Buenos+Aires%2C+Argentina.
Courtesy of Martin Ponczyk
Portola High alumnus and Calvin University junior Josh Steinberg celebrates with teammate Charlie Trey-Masters after winning gold at the 2023 Pan American Maccabi Games in an open men’s 3v3 basketball tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Only 3% of high school basketball players go on to play men’s NCAA basketball. Portola High alumnus and Calvin University junior Josh Steinberg took his basketball career to the next level after graduating in 2021 with recruitments to play at both the international and collegiate levels.

Steinberg participated in an athletic competition for athletes of Jewish descent called the Pan American Maccabi Games that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2023. Steinberg said the competition involves teams from all over the world that represent their countries, and athletes must send in films and coach recommendations in order to be selected. Steinberg went through the process to play 3v3 basketball for Team USA, which he said served as the biggest experience of his life. According to boys’ basketball coach Brian Smith, Josh won the MVP title for his bracket while there.

“Even though it’s not like the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup, to be a step or two down from that is insane,” Steinberg said. “ To represent our country is insane. I’d say this experience specifically shaped me because you get to meet people from all over the world. It’s not just about athletics. It’s a cultural experience.”

Prior to playing internationally, Steinberg was a member of Portola High’s second graduating class, which did not have a varsity basketball team until his sophomore year. While playing at the school, the team won a league title, contributing to the positive experience he had playing high school basketball, according to Steinberg.

“Josh, when he came in, was a very confident young man.” Smith said. “He developed good relationships with the players and the staff. His entire high school career, he was a high academic kid — very smart, very intelligent kid, but he loved basketball. The intelligence and the academic strength he had, he carried that onto the court as well.”

As he progressed into college basketball, Steinberg found challenges playing alongside and against athletes at a more advanced skill level.

“In college, I’d say the biggest transition goes from my senior year when you’re like ‘the guy’ to everybody in college [being] ‘the guy’ either at their school or their league,” Steinberg said. “So then getting there and competing with all those people has been a big transition, and still is to this day.”

Throughout his basketball journey, Steinberg remained motivated by his personal discipline and the support of his parents. They helped him navigate opportunities outside his comfort zone and achieve success as a basketball player, according to Steinberg.

“You gotta step outside of Southern California or just California in general and get another experience,” Steinberg said. “Because the world is so big and we’re kind of stuck in this bubble in Irvine, having the courage and the adventurousness to step outside of that — go try something different — opens the whole world up to you.”

Encouraging others to take advantage of opportunities available to them, Steinberg credits basketball for shaping his character and allowing him to explore the world.

“Morale, teamwork, all these aspects of life it teaches you just in a game, so character-wise, it’s built me there, but then also experience-wise,” Steinberg said. “The ability to travel, the ability to meet people all over the country and the world — it’s crazy to think about when you speak about it — but that’s the experience I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have.”

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About the Contributors
Camille Clement, Staff Writer
Camille Clement is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. Through her work, she hopes to amplify voices in the community and inform her fellow bulldogs. In her freetime, she enjoys discovering new music and spending time with friends. When she’s resisting the urge to online shop, Camille’s usually playing with her dog or scouring Letterboxd for a new movie to obsess over. This year, she couldn’t be more ecstatic to join the Pilot and share the most intriguing stories with her peers.
Maya Tedini, Opinion Editor
Maya Tedini is the Opinion Editor for her second year on the Portola Pilot. She’s looking forward to working with the leadership team along with getting to know the new members of the Pilot. She’s excited to discover all the fascinating opinions of the wonderful staff and to continue to grow her strengths as a journalist. Outside of the newsroom, she’s most likely listening to music, that may or may not all be by Taylor Swift, at cheer practice or spending time with her sister.
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