[Archived from February 20, 2009]
[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
For 17-year-old Daniel Mark, this summer holds great promise and great challenge. He is one of only 18 Jewish athletes from across the United States to be chosen for the 2009 USA National Maccabiah U18 men’s soccer team. The team will represent the U.S. and compete in the 18th World Maccabiah games in Israel – the third largest sporting event.
Competition to make the team was fierce. Daniel said that he competed against 75 or 80 people during the two-day tryouts in Florida. “It was the first time I was involved in a competition of that magnitude,” he said.
The games are a unique and extraordinary Jewish experience involving a celebration of intense sporting competition with immersion in Jewish life and culture, and unity, pride, and solidarity with the state of Israel.
This will be Daniel’s first trip to Israel. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. In addition to participating the competition, he will also have the opportunity to tour the country. “I’ve heard a lot about it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how beautiful the country is.”
The spectacular opening ceremonies will be held in Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv, where 10,000 Jewish athletes from 72 countries, including 1,000 from the USA will parade into the stadium carrying the flags of their countries.
Daniel also played on the USA National U16 soccer team at the 2007 European Maccabiah games in Rome. He is excited to be following in the footsteps of previous Maccabiah soccer players including Jonathon Bornstein, Jeff Agoos, and Benny Feilhaber, who have all gone on to play on the USA National soccer team.
Traveling to Israel to compete in the Games is an exciting experience, but it is also an expensive one. To ensure that no athlete is kept from competing in the games for financial reasons, Daniel is also participating in a “Raffle Extravaganza.” Sponsored by Maccabi USA Sports for Israel, each raffle ticket costs $100.
“There are tons of prizes, including a set of tickets to the Super Bowl,” Daniel said, “and only a limited number of tickets will be sold.” To purchase tickets, contact Daniel at 228-7131 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy raffle tickets online at maccabiusa.org; but if you do that, be sure to enter Daniel Mark’s name in the form so he gets credit for your purchase.
Daniel is a junior at Kentucky Country Day School where he is the captain, three-year starter and leading goal scorer on the varsity soccer team. He was a member of the first KCD team to win the All-A State Championship in 2007, and was named with All-State Honors in 2008, and recently received the prestigious David Michael Memorial Board Award.
Daniel has played competitive club soccer for 10 years and is now a leading scorer for the United 1996 FC ’92 Internationals in Louisville. Over the years of his experience with United and Mockingbird Valley soccer club, his teams won two state championships and were finalists on four occasions. He also represented the Kentucky Olympic Development Program in the 2007 Region II Championship.
Daniel’s experience helped prepare him for the Maccabiah competition; however his Maccabiah team will not come together for their first practice until they arrive in Israel one week before the games.
Daniel already knows all of his teammates aand believes “it will be easy to come together as a team. I expect to come home with the gold medal.”
He is also expecting to have a lot of fun and meet lots of new people.
Daniel is an honor student at KCD. He has aspirations of playing soccer in college and is actively being considered by NCAA Division I and III schools.
Daniel is also the place kicker for the KCD varsity football team and recently earned the 2008 PAC Place Kicker of the Year award. He was also a nationally ranked junior tennis player receiving five national sportsmanship awards.
Daniel lives in Louisville with his parents, Martin and Ronna Mark, and younger brother, Josh.
What advice he would give other aspiring Maccabiah athletes? “Get involved!” Daniel said. “It’s one of the greatest experiences you’ll have. I know it’s cliché, but going to Israel for the Maccabiah Games could be a once in a lifetime experience.”