Dvir Cahana Looking Forward As Stingers Basketball Career Comes to an End
Stingers Forward Balanced Faith, School and Basketball During his Years with the Team
As all of Concordia’s sports seasons are slowly coming to a close, many graduating students who have worn the uniform for the last time will be looking back on their careers and forward to life after collegiate sports.
One of those athletes is Stingers men’s basketball forward Dvir Cahana.
His family immigrated to Toronto from Göteborg, Sweden when Dvir was five before settling in Montreal a year later. That was when Cahana quickly fell in love with basketball at a local YMCA camp.
Cahana’s passion carried him to a spot on the Dawson College Blues. In the 2013-14 season, his last season there, he shot 45 per cent from the field, averaged close to five rebounds per game and was one of their most well-rounded players.
From there, he enrolled at McGill University and tried out for the basketball team. He didn’t make the cut, but he did stay there for a year of study, and served as the team’s equipment manager.
“Even though he wasn’t playing, his energy was contagious,” said McGill Head Coach David Deaveiro.
Deaveiro says that Cahana’s team-first attitude helped boost morale for players and coaches alike. Though he is happy to see Cahana move on and become an important member of Concordia’s team, he admits he wishes Cahana could have stayed at McGill.
“He was always the first to volunteer to do any task and he never complained about anything,” said Deaveiro.
Still wanting to play for a team, Cahana went to the open tryouts at Concordia the following year.
“I played my heart out in those tryouts,” he said. “I tried to show that I was ready for university-level basketball and I’m just thankful that I was given this opportunity.”
While he may not have played many minutes in his time as a Stinger, Cahana’s voice is recognizable to anyone who goes to a Concordia basketball game. The distinct “Yeeaahh!” he yells during pre-game shootaround has become known around the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec. It’s more than just motivation for his team; it’s also contagious for the fans.
“I try to do my best to support the team when we play and part of that is also getting the crowd into it,” said Cahana. “I love interacting with the fans and if it makes the atmosphere better, then that’s just a bonus.”
On top of his busy life as a student athlete, Cahana is also devoted to his Jewish faith. He’s well aware of the necessary sacrifices that come with balancing basketball, faith and his studies.
“It’s been an extra challenge when you look at some of the restrictions during Jewish holidays,” Cahana said. “But I worked hard and I’m so happy with the decisions I’ve made.”
Mark Weiner, a member of the Beth-El Congregation and has known Dvir since he was 11, has always been impressed with how Dvir has been able to balance faith with other parts of his life.
“One of the really impressive aspects of Dvir and it’s also something I really respect is how he manages to have a social life and play sports at this level but he never lost sight of his faith,” said Weiner.
Cahana recounts how, while being unable to use any electricity or money between Friday night and Saturday night because of the Sabbath, he had to find a way to make it to games and practices.
On certain occasions, he walked nearly 30 kilometers to get to games.
“It definitely complicates things especially when you look at transportation but I find it all very fulfilling,” said Cahana. “It’s been a unique experience and it’s something I’ll cherish for a long time because I’ve learned so many great lessons.”
Deaveiro recalls a specific situation from Cahana’s time at McGill.
“There was one game that we had all the way out at Bishop’s and he couldn’t travel by car. He even offered to walk a couple of miles to the game but we wouldn’t let him do that on his own,” he said.
“It’s just a testament to how committed he is to his religion and the team.”
“I try to do my best to support the team when we play and part of that is also getting the crowd into it. I love interacting with the fans and if it makes the atmosphere better, then that’s just a bonus.” — Dvir Cahana
Cahana had never started a game with the Stingers, coming off the bench once or twice a season. But on Feb. 24, before his last regular season home game, against the Université Laval Rouge et Or, Concordia Head Coach Rastko Popovic decided to give the veteran a proper send off as a thank you for his three years of service.
“I had no idea I was starting and that was just the coolest thing that [Popovic] did,” said Cahana, grinning from ear to ear. “It was absolutely wild and I’m never going to forget that game for as long as I live.”
“The crowd went wild and I still get goosebumps just thinking about it,” he said.
Popovic spoke about how pivotal the senior was to the team and how his role on the team will not be an easy one to fill next season.
“Dvir will go down as the best teammate I have ever seen in my years as a player or coach,” said Popovic. “Always smiling, always interacting with his teammates, always just happy to have basketball
in his daily life. You couldn’t ask for a better player to coach.”
The coach went on to explain that Cahana’s work ethic was exemplary.
“Dvir is an extremely hard working guy who’s always in the gym. He brings intensity and passion every day he steps on the floor,” said Popovic. “He’s a passionate and selfless player that will never hesitate to put the team first.”
Weiner agrees with Popovic’s sentiment.
“He always brings such energy to every even that is organized,” said Weiner. “Everyone there just feeds off of it and he just has this power to make anyone smile, even if they’ve had a bad day or if they’re not in a particularly good mood.”
When asked about his plans for the future, Cahana was adamant about giving back to the community. Whether through religion or basketball, his main focus was still on helping those around him.
“My goal is to become a rabbi so I’m going to look at applying to rabbinical school,” said Cahana, who will enroll in Concordia’s master’s program in Judaic studies this fall. “As for basketball, I would love to teach younger kids how to play and be that role model in their lives and inspire more kids to love basketball.”
He goes on to discuss how important role models in his community helped him grow as a person while he moved around.
“Going from city to city made it tough to keep certain connections,” said Cahana. “But the lessons I learned and the experiences I’ve lived through are what I’m going to carry forever.”
Regardless of what he does in the future, or where he does it, Cahana’s collegiate basketball career has been a whirlwind. Despite being used sparingly on the court, he hopes the leadership skills he’s gained at Concordia combined with the master’s degree he will earn can bring him a unique life beyond basketball.
“If I could say one thing to him now that he’s graduating it would be that I’m extremely proud of the man and player he’s become and that he should put the same passion into everything he puts his mind to,” said Deaveiro.