While all the other kids are frolicking around with their expensive, new Christmas presents, the Jewish kids have something else on their minds (besides their Chinese leftovers from December 25 dinner). It’s that time of year for kids to put their sport skills to the test and try out for Team OC in the 2013 JCC Maccabi Games. The Maccabi Games are the largest sports competition for Jewish teens in North America, where kids, ages 12 to 17, can represent their local delegation in the sport of their choice. Every summer, more than 6,000 Jewish teenagers gather to compete in their sport. The JCC of Orange County is proud to host this year’s Maccabi Games, and the staff is working hard to build our team with all the best local Jewish athletes.
“I love the Maccabi Games because it combines the love of sports with Judaism, said Samantha Cohen, JCC Maccabi director. “Our mission is to bring thousands of Jewish athletes together in friendly collaboration in a fun social environment. There is going to be a buzzing excitement about the Maccabi Games in Orange County this summer, so you don’t want to miss out!”
The Games are a great way for teens to build their character through sports and make friendships that could last a lifetime. The experience can help young athletes learn to use good sportsmanship around their peers and stay true to their Jewish traditions and values. The players are given the rare opportunity to interact with other Jewish teens from all over North America. Teenagers who have participated in this life-changing experience have had the time of their lives, playing the sports they love with their friends and the new athletes they’ll be meeting.
“This year, I’m looking forward to seeing all my old teammates and having a strong soccer team like we had last year,” said Sydney Rosen, returning soccer star. “I am also excited for all the fun activities that we get to participate in. Last year, we got to go to Dave & Buster’s and Bat Mitzvah-style parties with all our new friends from all over the country! I traveled to the Maccabi Games with only one of my friends, and I made so many more along the way. We still keep in touch, and I can’t wait to see them again!”
If the athletes choose to compete in a team sport, they can quickly learn to trust one another and work together to rise to the top. The team sports that the teenage athletes can compete in are: basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, in-line hockey, lacrosse and softball. Some sports are gender-specific, but all kids who have a passion for sports have the chance to lead Team OC to victory in whichever sport they choose.
If an athlete is one of Orange County’s outstanding individuals, he or she can compete alone in one of the individual sports. The sports offered to individual athletes are: swimming, bowling, tennis, table tennis (ping pong), dance and track and field.
The event will take place this summer, on August 4 to 9. There will be many fun events for the sport stars to look forward to during the week of the tournament. The JCC Maccabi director, Samantha Cohen, spilled the beans and told us to look forward to a beach blast at Newport Dunes, an Irvine Lanes bowling party and many more fun surprises. Also, players will get to march like Olympians in a huge opening ceremony. You’ll just have to sign up to see what other exciting events are in store for you this summer.
There are many opportunities to join Team OC, and it’s never too late to sign up. Everyone is guaranteed a chance to compete in one of the many sports offered in this summer’s Maccabi Games. If you are a young athlete, and you think you have what it takes to represent Orange County in the 2013 Maccabi Games, head on over to the JCC to sign up for what may very well be the best summer activity you’ve ever experienced.
Hannah Schoenbaum is a 13-year-old journalism enthusiast with a passion for writing and learning about her Jewish heritage. She is an eighth grade student at Corona del Mar High School and is a member of Temple Bat Yahm.