Above: Team Atlanta’s 16U baseball team beat the rain, a shift in the tournament schedule and tough competition to earn a silver medal at the JCC Maccabi Games in St. Louis.

More than 100 Atlanta Jewish teens got to live out an Olympic experience a few weeks before the real Summer Games began in Rio.

The Marcus Jewish Community Center sent 115 athletes ages 13 to 16 to the 2016 JCC Maccabi Games in Columbus, Ohio, from July 24 to 29 and St. Louis from July 31 to Aug. 5. The teams returned with 22 medals: eight gold, 10 silver and four bronze.

Members of the boys 14U basketball team pack meals for the St. Louis Are Foodbank as part of the community service component at the games.

Members of the boys 14U basketball team pack meals for the St. Louis Are Foodbank as part of the community service component at the games.

The two five-day Olympic-style games were a chance for Jewish athletes from cities across the United States and around the world to meet in friendly athletic competition while learning lessons in humility and sportsmanship.

The athletes also participated in community service initiatives through the JCC Cares program. In Columbus they entertained senior citizens and played with Special Olympics athletes; in St. Louis they packed more than 150,000 meals for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Forty-six athletes and 10 coaches/delegation heads traveled to Columbus, and 69 athletes and 16 coaches/delegation heads went to St. Louis. Team Atlanta participated in soccer, basketball, baseball, flag football, dance, tennis, and track and field.

“Team Atlanta embodied the spirit of the JCC Maccabi Games, which emphasizes sportsmanship, good will and a strong Jewish identity,” said Libby Hertz, who served as a delegation head for the Atlanta athletes. “Team Atlanta was polite and respectful, and each one of our athletes showed compassion and kindness. I am incredibly proud to have been able to be a part of this team.”

Last summer in Dallas and Milwaukee, Team Atlanta won 31 medals: 11 gold, 15 silver and five bronze.


Atlanta’s Medal Count

Team Atlanta won eight gold, 10 silver and four bronze medals in this summer’s Maccabi Games.


Columbus Results

Girls soccer 16 and under: gold; coaches Jack Vangrofsky and Ryan Pollard

Baseball 16 and under: gold; coaches Todd Starr, Tommy Carola and Daniel Kaufman

Boys basketball 16 and under: gold; coaches Brian Seitz and Jacob Gluck

Boys soccer 16 and under: bronze; coaches Bob Meyer and Roey Shoshan

Tennis — boys 16-and-under competitive: bronze; boys 16-and-under recreational: silver

St. Louis Results

Baseball 14 and under: silver; coaches Michael Cohen, Tyler Andrew and David Levy

Girls basketball 16 and under: Midot Medal for sportsmanship; coaches Michael Feldman and Mike Radetsky

Flag football 16 and under: silver; coaches Ronald McRae and Jared Khan

Dance — student choreography: silver; girls 14-and-under lyrical duet: silver; girls 14-and-under jazz group dance: bronze

Track and field — 800 meters: gold and silver; 110-meter hurdles: gold; 5×200-meter relay: gold; 4×400-meter relay: gold; 300-meter hurdles: silver

Tennis — boys 14-and-under recreational: gold, two silvers and bronze; girls 14-and-under competitive: silver

Boys soccer 14 and under: did not medal; coaches Mike Wolff and Daren Silberman

Boys basketball 14 and under: did not medal; coaches Kenny Silverboard and Arron Critchfeld


Athlete Reflections

Some of Team Atlanta’s athletes share their Maccabi experiences.

  • “I liked meeting new people from all around the country, out of the country, and connecting with them and sharing our lives.” — dancer
  • “Our favorite memory of the week was staying with our host family. They were gracious enough to take in six baseball boys, supported us at all of our baseball games and treated us as their own sons.” — baseball players
  • “I liked meeting people from other basketball teams. They cheered us on at our games, and we supported them at their games. When we played Baltimore in the semifinals, L.A. Westside all came to cheer us on.” — boy basketball player