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Jewish Journal

Jewish Gridder

by Hank Rosenfeld

June 26, 2003 | 7:59 pm

In a world where some high school athletes hang out at strip clubs or haze each other in powder puff rituals, isn't it good to know that there's still one nice Jewish football player keeping to a more righteous standard?

So what if he chalks up all his stats for an Episcopalian high school?

Matt Kirschner, a junior, attends Campbell Hall High in North Hollywood. Recently, Kirschner helped his school win a state track meet -- he long jumps 22 feet -- but wait until fall, because Kirschner prefers football.

He's the Vikings' star running back on offense and also plays defense, intercepting passes and tackling. Kirschner, who lives in Encino, started at Campbell Hall in the seventh grade. His favorite subjects are history and psychology and he sings in the choir -- the Gospel Choir.

"I told his grandma he had the only solo," said Kirschner's mother, Jan Winer.

Campbell Hall is funded through the Episcopal Church. However, during Jewish holidays, a rabbi speaks at the school. School events during Kwanzaa and Ramadan are held in a town hall environment called "chapel," which allows everyone to share their backgrounds.

"I think this is what has made it appealing to the Jewish families," Winer said, noting that the school is 40 percent Jewish. "Every color, shape and religion are together there."

Campbell Hall High is also about service, and Kirschner has worked two years at the Jeffrey Foundation with children at risk. The student-athele also has an interest in music and had a rock band called, The New Age Supermen.

Campbell Hall is in the Delphic League, playing schools like Malibu High, Pasadena Poly and Laurel Canyon.

"Matt is a coach's dream," said football coach Anthony Harris. "He has also become a respected athlete on campus, because of his work ethic on and off the field."

To see the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Kirschner display his speed crossing goal lines, college recruiters can see him on video that Kirschner has made. That's how colleges recruit these days.

The family has received letters of interest from schools such as Dartmouth, Colgate and UCLA. Kirschner attended a Nike camp held at USC last month, where college coaches put players through a variety of drills.

Kirschner, has always preferred football over track. In his sixth-grade graduation speech, he said he was going to play for the San Francisco 49ers.

As for his brothers, Eric 13 and Jesse 8, they're into sports, too.

"Jesse's going to be the one jumping out of an airplane," Winer said. "That's my concern. He loves rock climbing, too."

Her 8-year-old learned to play tackle football when he was 4.

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