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.