Rachel Martin, BBYO/Teen Program Director
Team Omaha’s suitcases gained a lot of weight during our week in St. Louis at the 2016 JCC Maccabi Games July 31-Aug. 5 because of all the medals Omaha earned! Luckily, we flew Southwest for the free bags.
Team Omaha is home with a total of 47 medals! Congratulations to all of the athletes – I am so beyond proud of you all for working so hard, always smiling, and representing Omaha’s Jewish community so excellently.
Swimmers Ryan Patterson, Jared Murray, and Max Kohll earned 12, 12, and six medals respectively. They swam different events each day and competed in relays with athletes from different delegations including Memphis, St. Louis, Israel, and Dallas. The male and female swimmers from each delegation formed a community and cheered each other on throughout each day’s competition. PS: shoutout to Jenny Patterson for the AMAZING towels and caps she found and had personalized for the swimmers – every other swimmer was envious and LOVED the Omaha caps. They all traded caps at the end of the meet and Omaha’s were a hot commodity.
Dancers Leora McNamara, Laura Kirshenbaum, Zoe Berman, and Rachel Kricsfeld earned five, three, four, and four medals respectively for their performances in several categories including Israeli, jazz, lyrical, and ballet. Zoe Berman earned a medal for student choreographed pieces. The girls befriended the other dancers competing and had fun sharing dressing rooms with and cheering for other delegations such as Houston, St. Louis, Detroit, Greater Washington, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Boca Raton.
The JCC Maccabi Games incorporate another way to earn medals, known as Midot medals, awarded to anyone (delegation heads, athletes, coaches, volunteers, chaperones) for exemplifying any of the six Midot values. Team Omaha awarded two Midot medals to deserving recipients. First, to the Dallas swim coach who helped coach the Omaha swimmers by giving pointers and constructive criticism, and secondly, to the San Diego dance coach who jumped right in to help the Omaha dancers with anything they needed throughout the competition. Both coaches were recognized from the JCC Association for their hard work and enthusiasm during the JCC Maccabi Games.
I am proud to announce that one of our own Team Omaha athletes earned a Midot medal: Lev Denenberg. Lev’s mixed baseball team coach from St. Louis awarded Lev a Midot medal for his positive attitude and good sportsmanship – at Maccabi we call this rachmanus – throughout the entire week. The baseball players missed several games due to rain delays, but Lev remained positive and enthusiastic despite the circumstances. He is a great example of the spirit of the JCC Maccabi Games: it’s about much more than just sports!
Charlie Cohen’s mixed basketball team fought hard and even went into overtime during one of their games. Composed of athletes from Omaha, Dallas, and New Orleans, the players worked hard to find a rhythm on the court despite the fact that they had just met on Sunday, July 31. Although they did not win many games, Cohen had a great outlook throughout the week and said that the rest of the JCC Maccabi experience made up for the losses. Again, congratulations to all of Team Omaha’s athletes!
To the parents of Team Omaha: thank you, again, for sending your child on this incredible journey, where they connected with nearly 1500 other Jewish teens from around the world, represented the Omaha Jewish community, and made lifelong memories.
2016 AWARDS CEREMONY – Monday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the JCC Social Hall – athletes and families invited! We will be hosting a Team Omaha awards ceremony for the athletes to re-award their medals. At this ceremony, we will also meet about 2017 ideas, dates, requests, etc.
Mark your calendars because we are already working on building Team Omaha for the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games, to be held in Birmingham, AL, and Albany, NY, July 30 – Aug. 4, and JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest, to be held in Miami, FL, Aug. 6 – 11.
We are working to put together an Omaha JCC Maccabi Committee of teens and parents, and we welcome anyone who is interested in being involved. With this committee, we will explore recruitment techniques, promote the JCC Maccabi Games in our community, fundraise, host social events to engage new participants, and collectively work together on Team Omaha’s 2017 theme and gear. For more information about the JCC Maccabi Games and other Jewish teen programming, contact Rachel Martin, JCC Teen Program/BBYO Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.334.6404.