J Teens bring home a lot more than medals from JCC Maccabi Games
by Sarah Foster, Teen Community Engagement Director at the J
Team Houston had an awesome time in Birmingham, Alabama at the JCC Maccabi Games and Arts Fest earlier this month. The J took 68 athletes from Houston to participate in seven different sports and one arts program.
Team Houston medal breakdown: The soccer team had a tough loss in the game for the bronze medal. The volleyball team had an incredible win in their bronze medal game and the girls were extremely proud. The 14U baseball and basketball teams both had tough losses in their gold medal games, but we are very proud that they came away with silver medals. Our 16U baseball players were on a mixed team with Dallas, San Diego and San Jose and won the bronze. Our girls’ basketball players were also on a mixed team with Dallas and had an incredible win over Israel in the last 17 seconds for the gold medal. We also had individual athletes playing tennis (where one Team Houston member won a bronze), swimming (where our athletes won several silvers and golds) and track (where our athlete won five gold medals in all five of her races.)
Moi Camhi is a junior at Bellaire High School who played on the 16U boys’ basketball team and won the Team Houston Spirit Award for his participation in and service to Team Houston.
“My experience at Maccabi has been nothing short of amazing. This was my fourth and last year of participating in the Maccabi games. I have met so many new Jewish friends from all over the country and world. You also get to go to cities that you may have never been to before. It has been one of the best experiences of my life and I hope to see everyone in Orange County next year,” said Moi.
In addition to the competition on the fields, our teens were able to meet and make new friendships with athletes and teens from all across the country and even international students from Israel and Ukraine. On JCC Cares Day, athletes had the opportunity to learn about Tisha B’Av, a Jewish holiday that fell during the games, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. They learned about the American Civil Rights Movement at the 16th Street Baptist Church from a survivor of a bombing at that church and at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Some of our teens had a chance to give back to the Birmingham community by packing up school supplies. There was plenty of fun being had in the “Hangtime” room and at a block party at the McWane Science Center.
Additionally, our Star Reporter was featured regularly on the Birmingham Maccabi Facebook page for the great pictures he took throughout the games. Team Houston also consists of 11 coaches and two delegation heads. Our tennis coach George Ross, won a midot medal for Ga'ava, pride, for being present for his players and taking such pride in coaching them.
Noa Strauss is a rising 8th grader at Emery/Weiner School. She and Rachel Gittleman played basketball on a team with four girls from Dallas. Team Texas beat Israel in the final minutes of the championship game to win gold.
“It was very fun meeting all different types of teens from around the country. I’m so glad we won the gold. It was such a great experience,” said Noa.
Start planning now to be part of this unique experience next summer as Team Houston heads to Orange County. Teens who are between the ages of 13 and 16 on August 5, 2018 and play a sport or are talented at art are eligible to be part of Team Houston.