The 2019 JCC Maccabi Games in Atlanta are a year and a half away, but preparations have started for an event that is expected to bring 1,200 visiting and 300 local athletes ages 13 to 16 together in friendly athletic competition from July 28 to Aug. 2 next year.
To oversee the planning and execution, the Marcus Jewish Community Center has hired Stacie Francombe as 2019 Maccabi Games director.
It will be only the second time Atlanta has hosted since the annual Olympic-style games for North American Jewish teens were launched in 1982 in Memphis. After serving as one of five hosts in 2001, the Marcus JCC was selected to host in 2007 but had to withdraw because of the center’s financial problems.
“Our vision is to take these games to another level,” Francombe said. “We want the wow factor and to bring people to the city not just to experience the JCC, but to experience Jewish Atlanta as a whole and be inclusive all throughout the city.”
Francombe joins the JCC after working in sports media and television production for most of her career. In the late 1990s she moved to Atlanta to work at CNN/Sports Illustrated before shifting to TBS.
Later, she started her own video production company with her husband, Dave, focused on Jewish lifecycle events and nonprofits. In 2001, they produced a highlight video for the JCC Maccabi Games in Atlanta.
In 2006 she launched Get Married, a television show and website dedicated to helping brides plan their weddings. She grew it into a national brand and sold it in 2011.
She has three sons, Josh, Jake and Geordie. The older two, Josh and Jake, are very involved in sports. Josh, her oldest, plays soccer for the Atlanta United under-16 team and was called up to play with the Welsh U16 national team in the fall.
“I’ve got three children in this age group myself, and I’ve been active in their sporting lives,” Francombe said. “I have a huge passion for not just being a spectator, but participating and being a mom of kids that play sports. The Jewish community tied in with sports, tied in with planning and organizational aspects, really intrigued me about the position.”
Francombe will be assisted by games co-chairs Amy Rubin and Libby Hertz, as well as a number of volunteer planning committees.
The Maccabi Games are typically held in multiple locations, and Detroit will also host in 2019. Long Beach and Orange County, Calif., are the two host sites for 2018. Birmingham, Ala., was one of the 2017 hosts.
“I am thrilled to share that Stacie Francombe has been named the 2019 Atlanta Maccabi Games Director,” said JCC CEO Jared Powers. “Stacie brings with her a vast array of professional experience along with a love of sports, the Jewish Community, and JCC’s. It is a pleasure to welcome her to the MJCCA family.”
More than 1,000 Atlanta-area volunteers will be needed to help staff special events, host athletes and handle other tasks. Sponsors and donors are also needed.
“There are so many people in this city who are so excited and have already begun donating financially,” Francombe said. “I think that the committees and volunteers are going to be so key in the success of this. There will be challenges, but I’m just excited to jump in, and I think that everyone that is a part of the leadership committee is just as excited.”