Our very own Nancy Alterman represented the JCC Denver at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel, and she has the hardware to prove it.
Since she was five years old, Nancy has been coming to, and eventually working at, the JCC Tennis Center. She’s always been an avid tennis player but had never considered competing in the Maccabiah Games until she hosted the girls’ Maccabi team from Israel for the Jr. Maccabi Games in 2010.
“Once I saw how empowering the Maccabi Games are, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” Nancy said. Since then, she’s represented the J Denver in three Games—most recently the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel, where she brought home the Bronze medal in Women’s Masters Tennis Doubles 60+ in with her teammate Michelle.
“The last two games I competed in, I was more excited about having the opportunity to compete with and meet Jewish athletes from all over the world,” said Nancy, “but this year I definitely wanted to win a medal, so I’m very happy.”
The Maccabiah Games aren’t unlike the Olympics, according to Nancy. Each athlete can pick where they stay during the two-week-long competition, but most athletes stay together at the same hotel right off the Mediterranean Sea, where they spend their down time lounging by the pool or the beach between events.
Another Olympic-like aspect of the Games is the diversity—this year’s competition welcomed 9,500 athletes from 80 countries to participate in 43 sports. Prior to the events beginning, all of the athletes march in with their country during the opening ceremony.
Although Nancy was across the world during this year’s Games, she had quite the community surrounding and supporting her. Todd Shays, the basketball coach at Kent High School, coached the US Men’s Basketball team, and Scott Ehrlich, the CEO of the Ft. Lauderdale JCC, was the captain of the US’s Tennis team. Nancy reconnected with friends she had made during past games, and some friends and family members from home, including Nancy’s cousin, were also in Israel during this year’s Games.
When asked about the highlights of her experience at this year’s Games, Nancy mentioned how impressed she was with the Israel Tennis Centers—there are 15 centers throughout Israel that offer lessons to hundreds of children—but more than anything, Nancy said that meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends from past Games in the same place was what made the Games so special.
“The best part of my Maccabiah experience is the fact that I now have Jewish friends all over the world, from South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Great Britan, Canada, all over the US—oh, and of course Israel! Gathering with these athletes and knowing we’re all Jewish makes Maccabiah’s cultural environment so warm and inviting…It was a magical two weeks!” she said.
Nancy plans to represent the J Denver and the United States during the 2019 Pan American Games in Mexico City, Mexico.