Maccabi Games in Mexico City


photo courtesy of Ally Knapp

Junior Ally Knapp dribbles the ball around her opponent in a game.

Matthew Rabinowitz, News Editor

Junior Ally Knapp qualified to represent the U.S. in the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City this summer from July 5-15.

Sophomore Abby Alter also qualified to attend the Games, but is no longer able to participate due to a recent knee injury.

The games are for Jews of all ages from both North and South America who want to compete at the national level in their chosen sport. In addition to playing games, participants will participate in educational, cultural and social activities, as well as tours.

Knapp, who is on the CESJDS’ varsity girls soccer team, will be playing for Team USA’s Junior Soccer team along with other American Jewish girls. In addition to having gained experience with the Lions, Knapp has been playing on DC Stoddert Soccer’s intensive travel teams for six years.

After watching her older siblings play for Team USA in Chile, Knapp realized how much she wanted to participate in the Pan American Maccabi Games herself.

“I’m just really excited,” Knapp said. “I love sports and I love Judaism, and it’s a combination of two things that I really love. I’m just excited to be with a bunch of people who share both of those passions …”

Unlike the more commonly known JCC Maccabi Games, there are no tryouts for the Pan American Maccabi Games, which are run by Maccabi USA. Instead, Knapp had to get in contact with Team USA’s coach, answer a series of questions, provide information regarding their soccer experience and get recommendations from their coaches in order to participate.

Silberman, who has coached basketball in previous JCC Maccabi Games and Maccabi USA’s international games in Israel, is trying to ensure that JDS athletes are involved in various Maccabi games because of the unique bonding, practice and educational opportunities that they provide.

Varsity girls soccer head coach Jay Matula, who recommended Knapp for the event, hopes that she continues to develop their soccer skills as the Pan American Maccabi Games near.

“I will do my best to challenge …  and assist in developing [her] knowledge and skill whenever possible,” Matula said in an email interview.

However, the Pan American Maccabi Games are not only a learning and growing experience for the players, but also an opportunity for JDS to prove itself as an athletically capable school.

“It really is cool because a lot of times people here are like ‘Ah, we’re just a small Jewish day school, what do we know about sports?’ But then they see how good they really can be in the grand scheme of things,” Silberman said.

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 5 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on March 15, 2019.