The crowd went wild as the U16 Boys’ Soccer Team realized that they had won the championship game.
“I had a feeling of amazement and excitement that we had not only gone undefeated, but won the championship. After coming so close the year before, I could not have asked for a better ending.” says their goalie, Jordan Sabatier.
The 2017 JCC Maccabi U16 Boys’ Soccer team was comprised of seven boys from Denver, while the rest of the team were athletes from all around the country–three were from Phoenix, one from St. Louis, one from North Carolina, and another from Minnesota. The true highlight of this story? The seven Denver athletes had never played nor met the other boys who would ultimately comprise their gold-winning team. Despite never having practiced as a team, this outstandingly talented team of young athletes were able to achieve the unthinkable.
The Maccabi players were keen on their win, but also had high praise for JCC Maccabi Games as an organization that benefits and supports young Jewish athletes. “It makes me feel that my being Jewish I am part of something bigger than myself. It also allows me to recognize the amount of Jewish teens in the world that I can relate to” says Alex Schiff. Josh Honig-Frand says, “the JCC Maccabi Games allowed me to connect with my Jewish identity because it allowed me to immerse myself into sort of a small Jewish community of kids with similar age and interests as me.” The Maccabi Games bring together Jewish adolescents from all over the country in order to strengthen their sportsmanship skills.
Another amazing addition to the boys’ win? They made lasting friendships that transcend the state’s border. Alex Schiff says, “I definitely developed lasting friendships with my teammates from other cities. I still communicate with them and am very excited to see some of them again this upcoming Maccabi Games.” This Gold Medal Soccer Team developed meaningful friendships with fellow Jewish athletes, all while embracing their pride and Jewish identity through sports.
Instances such as these remind us that anything is possible and perseverance is key in order to achieve success; however, the biggest takeaway of all is the team’s ability to adapt to change and their willingness to embrace their out-of-state teammates. This story echoes a similar JCC Maccabi Basketball story from last year–one in which you all may be familiar with (and if you’re not, be sure to check it out)!
Our young JCC Maccabi athletes, especially the young men who comprised this U16 Boys’ Soccer Team, are the perfect example of what it means to be a part of our JCC community. Joey Feerer puts it simply: “I love being able to compete with a group of great guys. I enjoy connecting and meeting new people.” And that’s what it’s all about.
Congratulations to this fantastic group of JCC Maccabi athletes!