By Eli Freund
This past week, 16 Jewish teen athletes from the greater Hartford area competed at the Maccabi Games in Rockland County, N.Y.
The Hartford delegation was represented in swimming, basketball, lacrosse and various other sports, “We have many athletes on teams that may medal but in our individual sport of swimming, we have a good chance with 13/14 year old swimmers Olivia Shea and Jordan Polun,” said delegation head, David Laudati.
Laudati, in his 4th year as delegation head, has seen his team gradually get better throughout the years.
“As a delegation we usually do well. We have a young basketball team that has been practicing hard in the hopes of becoming a great team.”
But being a Maccabi athlete isn’t always about athletic competition, it’s also an experience that young kids will carry with them through their lives, a memory of heartbreak and loss, yet at the same time camaraderie and triumph.
“Throughout the day kids have time to hang out with the Israelis, which includes different Israeli activities, Facebook time, and a chance to socialize with the other athletes,” says Laudati. Host cities host many different activities at night and during the day to immerse the athletes in the surrounding area and provide an experience in culture during the games. The athletes also have the unique experience of staying with host families, who often make the athletes part of the family.