Three Locals Score Berths on 2017 Maccabiah Games Open Women’s Basketball Team

Three women from the Greater Philadelphia area will travel to Israel next year to represent the U.S. on the Open Women’s Basketball Team at the 2017 World Maccabiah Games.

Three women from the Greater Philadelphia area will travel to Israel next year to represent the U.S. on the Open Women’s Basketball Team at the 2017 World Maccabiah Games.
Allison Chernow of Dresher, Hannah Fox of Plymouth Meeting and Lauren Rothfeld, also of Dresher, will join nine other athletes from across the country at the world’s third-largest international sporting event.
Open Women’s Basketball Head Coach Sherry Levin — who is head women’s basketball coach at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts — will be joined by Fordham University’s Jennifer Cosgrove as assistant coach.
“It is an honor to be coaching such an exceptional group of women,” said Levin. “Hannah, Lauren and Allison bring so much enthusiasm and skill to our team. The tryout was very competitive, and they shined with the teamwork, hustle and talent.”
All 12 of the team members play at the college level — many of them at Division 1 schools — and will bring that expertise to the competition.
“Our common goal is to win a gold medal,“ said Levin, “but the experience we will share will change lives.”
Levin knows this firsthand. Her love affair with the Maccabi movement, as she puts it, began in 1981, when she was a player herself, and has blossomed ever since.
“More valuable than the medals won were the lasting connections to our heritage, and the bonds that we shared through our collaboration to pursuing excellence,” said Levin, who won a gold medal at the Pan Am Games and a gold medal at the 2013 Maccabiah Games for coaching the junior girls.
Now she looks forward to sharing the depth of her experiences and connection to Israel she gained with the new team.
“I am excited to bring my experience full circle. Representing the USA is an amazing opportunity, one filled with inspiration to not only pursue gold, but to connect the ideals of our Jewish heritage with our national pride.”
Dresher’s Lauren Rothfeld, a senior at Salisbury University in Maryland, participated in the JCC Maccabi Games as a teen.
“The feeling that I got knowing everyone I was competing against was Jewish was indescribable,” said the Upper Dublin High School graduate of her youthful Maccabi experience.
Now she’s looking forward to having that same feeling in Israel, a country she fell in love with on a Birthright trip two summers ago.
“I am most excited to go back to Israel,” she said. “I am also excited that I get to continue playing basketball after my time at Salisbury University is over. The fact that I can combine two of my favorite things — basketball and Israel — is something I am really looking forward to.”
Rothfeld’s future teammate Hannah Fox also played basketball in the JCC Maccabi Games for several years.
“I loved meeting athletes from all over the world,” she said of the experience.
Fox was a standout athlete at Penn Charter High School, where she broke the school’s record for total scoring for a basketball player with 1,651 points.
Now Fox is a freshman at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and is looking forward to representing the U.S. in Israel, a place she’s never been.
“I have always wanted to go since I was in kindergarten at Perelman Jewish Day School,” she said. “To represent my country in Israel, playing basketball, is a dream come true for me.”
Rothfeld and Fox will be joined by Allison Chernow, another Upper Dublin High School grad. As a high school senior, Chernow co-captained her team to a Suburban One American Conference crown. She now plays for Emory University in Atlanta.
The official opening ceremony of the 20th Maccabiah Games will take place on July 6, 2017, at 8 p.m. in Jerusalem — a date that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification in the wake of the Six Day War.
But last month marked the preliminary launch of the so-called Jewish Olympics with the Jerusalem Maccabiah Night Race, an inaugural event that drew thousands of competitors for a 10k race and a half-marathon. Among the runners was Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat — a veteran marathoner — who had earlier described the route as “a stunning course along the very streets where kings and prophets walked, while reinforcing the bond between Diaspora Jewry and Israel.”
Strengthening that bond is part of what has Coach Levin — and her players — so excited.
“It will be inspiring to travel with [the athletes], exploring Israel and deepen our connection with our heritage,” she said. “We will come together next summer first representing the USA while competing to the best of our ability on the international stage, and then share the Maccabiah experience together. It is an amazing opportunity that will stay with us for a lifetime.”
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