By Brian Bateman
While many Dallas-area teen athletes were enjoying fireworks and New Year’s Eve around their family and friends, one group of Dallas athletes were competing for the United States in Chile at the Pan-American Maccabi Games.
Gymnast Sarah Weisberg brought home team gold, while soccer player Max Weinstein also competed at the Olympic-style Jewish teen event.
“It was a great event,” Weisberg said. “I highly suggest going to these. I’m going to try out for the one in Israel (Maccabiah).”
Weisberg brought home team gold on the first day of competition. Her performance on the bars and floor routine were good enough to qualify her for the individual competition on Day 2. She took silver in both.
The Shepton High School freshman is a level 10 gymnast, which requires plenty of time in the gym. Getting a chance to visit another country and culture gave her a unique experience she wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“She practices 36 hours a week as a level 10 gymnast, so there’s not much time for a lot else,” mother Grace Weisberg said.
It was a great experience for both Weisbergs.
“We had a huge opening ceremonies in their soccer stadium. The president of Chile was there and they had a video from (Benjamin) Netanyahu,” Grace Weisberg said. “It was really meaningful to have everyone in the group stand up and sing Hatikvah.”
Weisberg had competed against many of her U.S. teammates around the nation, but wasn’t familiar with them.
“I was only texting one girl, Tory. We kind of knew each other through our coaches.”
Now, she knows plenty more, and will likely get to see them around the nation as she competes nationally.
It was a good outing for Weisberg, who spends 5½ hours in training every day.
Weisberg was able to attend the opening ceremonies, but had to miss the closing ceremonies to make her flight.
It was a bit of a bummer, but Weisberg has plans to see a few more Maccabi Games, and maybe she’ll get to stick around for the end.
“I hope I get to go,” she said. “We have tryouts (for Maccabiah in Israel) this December.”
She hopes more Metroplex teens will join next year.
“It was amazing,” she said. “Meeting all the new people. Competing with all the new people. We had a lot of stuff at the place we competed. We also toured, went to beach, had a New Year’s party, and Shabbat one night.”
The next Team USA-involved Maccabi Games will be the 20th Maccabiah, July 4-18, 2017 in Israel. Over 9,000 athletes from more than 75 countries are expected to compete.