Alumni in the News

For Noah Gans '21, Brandeis is a family affair

Noah Gans '21 with his parents, Lori '83, Heller MMHS'86, and Steve Gans '82, P'21, after Brandeis beat Tufts to advance to the NCAA Division 3 Final Four.

By David E. Nathan

If we’re awarding assists for the Brandeis men’s soccer team’s run to a second consecutive NCAA Division 3 Final Four, let’s consider these two off-field contributors: Professor Jerry Cohen’s course on the 1960s and longtime coach Mike Coven’s handwritten recruiting letters.

Without Cohen’s popular “The Sixties: Continuity and Change in American Culture” and Coven’s fondness for sending personalized notes rather than typed letters to promising high school players, the Judges might not be preparing to head to Greensboro, North Carolina, for a national semifinal meeting with Messiah College on Friday.

Cohen’s class brought together Lori Berman ’83, Heller MMHS ’86, P’21, and Steve Gans ’82, P’21, a Brandeis soccer player who invited her to sit with him one day in the spring semester of 1980. Steve, a transfer from Cornell, had been wooed to Brandeis in part by one of Coven’s personalized recruiting pitches. Lori and Steve were married in 1988, and their oldest child, Noah ’21, is now a star midfielder for the Judges. He, too, received a handwritten entreaty from Coven, shortly before the coach announced his retirement and was replaced by 11-year assistant Gabe Margolis prior to this season.

“Almost everything is done electronically now, so it’s pretty enticing to get a handwritten letter,” Noah says of Coven’s unique outreach. “You think to yourself, ‘Wow, this guys really cares.’ It makes you feel you are a priority to him.”

Brandeis was not always a priority for Noah despite being a member of one of the University’s largest extended alumni families; 11 of his relatives over three generations, beginning with Lori’s mother, Carole Wolfe Berman ’57, P’80, P’83, G’12, G’21.

“For many years, I didn’t love the idea of going to Brandeis because so many people in my family had gone there and I wanted to do my own thing, but as the recruiting process went on it became one of my top options,” Noah says.

Now, he’s happy to be a Judge, and why not? The team’s youngest player, he has started 16 of the team’s 21 matches, and is tied for sixth in scoring with nine points (three goals, three assists). He scored twice in a 5-1 victory over Clark in mid-October and played a key role as Brandeis (17-4) advanced to the Final Four by shutting out NCAA foes Western Connecticut, Rutgers-Newark, Drew and defending national champion Tufts.

“We feel like we can take on anyone,” Noah says. “I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”

Noah is relishing the opportunity that his father never had. Steve was forced to sit out the 1979 season after transferring from Cornell per NCAA transfer rules and then missed much of the next two seasons because of a variety of injuries. Hip surgery sidelined him in 1981, when Brandeis also went to the Final Four.

“I am thrilled with the way Noah’s freshman year has turned out,” says Steve, who coached Noah and his younger brother, Josh, in youth leagues. “I don’t look at him getting to the Final Four as exorcising some soccer-playing demons, as I was able to do that briefly in the pros after college. This is all about him.”

Steve, a law partner at Prince Lobel in Boston, has stayed involved with soccer since graduation. He served as a lawyer for Boston’s successful bid to host World Cup matches in 1994; founded Professional Soccer Advisors, a consultancy that represents European clubs in the United States; and worked for teams in the old North American Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer League. He is hoping to be elected president of the U.S. Soccer Federation in February.

Steve and Lori have enjoyed following Noah around New England this fall. They have attended every local match and several on the road as well.

“We couldn’t be prouder of him,” she says. “I’m excited that he’s having such a great start to his collegiate career. It’s such a thrill for me to see another Brandeisian in the family make his own mark on the school.”

For more information about the Brandeis men's soccer team, visit the Brandeis Athletics website.

Date: November 28, 2017