OyChicago articles

8 Questions for Elesabeth Bacherta, women’s professional football player, fitness instructor, comedy lover

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07/14/2009

JYSK Elisabeth Bacherta photo 1

Elesabeth Bacherta’s nickname is “Bruce,” after Bruce Lee. Like her namesake, she hits fast and hard… and leaves no one standing. But her sport is not a martial art, it’s football. That’s right: Women’s. Professional. Tackle. Football. Elisabeth is both Offense & Defense Lineman for Chicago’s team, The Force and recently celebrated her first anniversary with the team.

Born in Benton, Arkansas, Elesabeth is a fitness instructor for the Chicago Park District at Broadway Armory Park. She has a Master of Science in Exercise Science from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago and another Master of Science in Organization Development, from Loyola University, Chicago. Her undergrad degree, in Journalism, is from Texas A&M University.

So whether you want to get in shape, plow through the opposition, or just catch a great football game, Elesabeth is a Jew you should know!

JYSK Elisabeth Bacherta photo 2

In game face mode, listening intently to her coash during a game

1. What is your favorite blog or website?
Sometimes I forget to set the VCR, or better yet, I set the VCR but forget to put in a tape, then I miss my favorite television show.  I really appreciate the websites where I can watch the episodes that my VCR didn’t record, especially season finales.

2. If time and money were limitless, where would you travel?
I’ve always admired gladiators—I even dressed as one for Purim one year—so I’d like to visit Italy.  I’d like to either ride a bicycle or motorcycle all over the country.

3. If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?
Every year my friends try to convince me to dress like Xena, Warrior Princess for Purim. I’m too modest to wear that outfit in public, but Rosie O’Donnell would so I’d get her to play me in a movie. We’re both funny and smart.

4. If you could have a meal with any two people, living or dead, famous or not, who would they be? Where would you eat or what would you serve?
I love comedy because I love to laugh, so I’d have dinner with my two favorite comedians, Robin Williams and Queen Latifa.  Besides, I tell all my friends that I’m their lovechild, so it would be nice to have dinner with family. We’d eat somewhere casual that serves really good fish and a variety of veggies.

5. What’s your idea of the perfect day?
I enjoy being active so I’d like to either teach or attend a fitness class and then lift weights.  After that I’d spend the rest of the day soaking up the sun and listening to water either from waves or a waterfall.

6. What do you love about what you do?
I spent the last four years studying really hard so I could create a job that I’d enjoy. The late nights studying and no social life paid off, because now I get paid to teach exercise classes with really wonderful people and play with amazing children all day long.  In a nutshell, I get paid to play all day.

7. What job would you have had if not the one you have now?
I love being near the water and the physical demands of exercise, so working for the Coast Guard would be my second choice.

8. What’s your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago?
You think tackle football is tough? Try getting into the line for lunch before the little old ladies at shul. I don’t have at lot of free time these days, so I really appreciate the Shabbats when I get to have lunch with my friends at Anshe Emet.

Apathy and Political Ploys

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07/14/2009

Apathy and Political Ploys photo

A Chihuly installation that has nothing to do with this story

I was minding my own business in the courtyard on the corner of Monroe and Wells, trying to enjoy my Mexicali salad and a little sunshine, when I was interrupted. Not by the usual culprits like a colleague, a pigeon, or some guy selling Streetwise. I was interrupted by a voice inside my own head. It happened to be speaking in a booming baritone and didn’t give two shits about serenity or spring greens.

Devastate. Decimate. Desecrate. Destroy [pause] our system. 

Devastate. Decimate. Desecrate. Destroy [pause] our system. 

I’ll have you know, this is atypical. My subconscious might be quirky, but it doesn’t usually get incensed (in a Malcolm X-ish kinda way) and begin to alliterate.

So I put down my fork, took out my BlackBerry and emailed my friend Irving. Devastate. Decimate. Desecrate. Destroy [pause] our system.

What about defecate, he wrote back in a nanosecond.

That’s the good thing about friends. They don’t always need you to put things in context. When something sneaks up on you (and your cherry tomatoes) and bursts your bubble of indifference, they care, too.

Irving knows me well enough to know I don’t always care. My older brother is the one who inherited the activist gene. He’s the one who got arrested in college for protesting apartheid, who accumulates stacks upon stacks of precariously balanced newspapers, and updates his Facebook status every 12 minutes with abbreviated newsflashes that, to me, might as well be written in Swahili.

I’m generally the one who has no counter-argument to the statement, Ignorance is bliss. Ignorance, avoidance, denial – all bliss.

With me, mom skipped the page where Snow White got poisoned, muted the sound when the Wicked Witch melted, pressed fast forward when Bambi died. I haven’t opened my Smith Barney statements since November. I haven’t watched TV since Ruben Studdard won Amercian Idol. I get my news – good or bad -- by reading the headlines over the shoulders of my seatmates on Metra.

The thing is, when something touches your own life, it has a way of grabbing your attention. And the headline that’s grabbing my attention right now is, Poor, disabled, and elderly to pay the price for deadlock in Springfield.

Go on. Read it. I’ll wait.

Truth be told, I work for the largest social welfare organization in the state of Illinois. One could argue I am paid to care if our state is operating without an approved budget two weeks into the new fiscal year. One could argue I’m paid to care if our legislators are batting around budgets that will, in fact, devastate (decimate, destroy) major parts of our social service system.

But on my own time, in that courtyard on the corner of Wells and Monroe, I care for other reasons. Namely, because of what these agencies have done for my family.

They taught my husband English. They helped him become a U.S. citizen. They took care of our babies so we both could work – diapered them, burped them, taught them to swim. And during recent tough times, they were the buoy that kept us afloat.

I cared when that English program closed last week due to lack of funding. And I cared when that counseling program had to cut its staff and then cut it again, despite having waiting lists that last for months.

And that’s just us. One little Skokie family with a home, an income, and each other.

What about the thousands of other families – poor, disabled, elderly, or not – losing the services that have kept them afloat?

Can’t skip the page, mute the sound, or press fast forward this time.

According to my brother, my colleagues, and my seatmates on Metra, there are things I can do. Educate a friend. Hug a social worker. Write a story for Oy! Make a donation. Write letters to our legislators. Edit out the part that says, What the fuck planet are you living on? Pray they come to their senses.

But on this particular day, sitting in my courtyard on the corner of Wells and Monroe, apathy turns into apoplexy and the baritone booms on.

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