By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
Graham Marcus thought he was getting spammed.
When he checked his email and there was invite to try out for the Israeli national lacrosse team, the Plano native was skeptical.
“I didn’t know anything about it; I really thought it was a fake email,” he said. “But I looked into it and it turned out to be legit. And now I’m really excited about it.”
A recently graduated senior from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, Marcus still isn’t sure how they got his name or how he ended up on the list of players invited to try out for Team Israel this summer.
“I have a theory, but don’t know exactly how they found out,” he said. “Someone must have done the hard work to find all the best players with Jewish heritage.”
He’ll be among a group of athletes that head to Israel on July 15, along with fellow Dallas native Daniel Kravit, and will be there until Aug. 11 trying to make the team for the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship in Israel.
Israel first competed in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship, held in Denver, and finished seventh in the 38-team tournament.
“It’s a growing sport and I’ve never been to Israel,” Kravet said. “It’s exciting to see where lacrosse can take me. Never thought I’d be considered to play for the World Championships.”
Both Marcus and Kravit are eligible to try out for the teams as Americans with Jewish heritage. There will be a three-day formal tryout and then the players have been placed on teams in the Israeli Premier Lacrosse League, where there will be further evaluation. During that same time the teams will also be putting on youth clinics and getting involved in the community through various community service projects.
During that time, Israeli lacrosse officials will try to put together the best group of players, and there is hope the events surrounding the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship, including this tryout session, will help grow the game.
“Everywhere I’ve played lacrosse it’s been growing,” Marcus said. “Whether it was in high school or in college, and now this. It’s a great sport, and to be able to help promote it and introduce more people to the sport in awesome.”
Marcus and Kravit both grew up playing lacrosse in Plano. Their families were close and they eventually played on the same team in high school (Marcus is one year older). Both played college lacrosse, with Marcus finishing up a four-year career as the captain at Hendrix College, while Kravit will be a senior next season at Roanoke College in Virginia.
“I know Graham well, we would play together and our families are close,” Kravit said. “We were a year apart on youth teams, but in high school it was great to play together. Now it’s really cool to be able to try out for Team Israel with him.”
Marcus is a long-stick middie, a defensive specialist of sorts often charged with guarding the other team’s top player. Kravit is listed as a middie for the tryout, but has also played attack and is a more offensive-minded player on the field.
While the ultimate goal is to make the team, both Kravit and Graham said they plan on soaking up the whole experience in Israel.
“It’s going to be great,” Marcus said. “How often do you get to travel the world and play a sport you love?”
“It’s something I’m sure I’ll never forget,” Kravit said.
Both players also said they hope their experience can help grow the sport in Texas. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and Marcus said letting younger players know about the opportunities — including playing in college and heading to Israel — show how the sport can open so many doors.
“On top of that it’s just fun,” Graham said. “In my mind it’s the best sport in the world.”