By Abigail Goldberg
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina with Maccabi USA for the XV Pan American Maccabi Games – which ran Dec. 27-Jan. 5 — coaching the Under-16 Field Hockey team. The athletes on this team were from all over the U.S. but had two fundamental qualities in common: their Judaism and their love for field hockey.
I share those passions. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been surrounded by coaches, athletes, managers from all over the world with the same love of sports, travelling, and Jewish peoplehood. Rose Geller and Sadie Hyman, like me both from Louisville, were two of the 13 athletes that I had the pleasure to coach in Buenos Aires.
“What I imagined would be a fun way to meet new people and visit a new country over winter break turned into an experience of a lifetime,” Rose says. “Staying in a hotel with 800 Jewish athletes from all over the United States and meeting new players from all over the world who share our religion was amazing. It was like summer camp for athletes — only better. The sportsmanship, friendships, and culture Maccabi USA exemplified was an experience that I will forever be grateful for.”
Putting my feelings about this trip into words is difficult. Perhaps my most overwhelming feelings are gratitude and Jewish pride. The Maccabi experience was truly life changing.
I participated in Maccabi as an athlete years ago, and now I can proudly say, as a coach. The field hockey experience in Argentina was competitive, but always very welcoming. We competed in five games against different Argentinian teams — we played very well and came home with a hard-fought bronze medal. I love my athletes who shared this experience with me, while I met some amazing people from across the U.S. and the world. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again at the 22nd Maccabiah — July 8-22, 2025 — in Israel!
Abigail Goldberg is Teen Director at the Jewish Federation of Louisville