Soon-to-be sophomores to compete in European Maccabi Games
By Brian Bateman
For most college athletes, summer’s a time for light training and recuperation before another long season.
But two inseparable Jewish Aggies are ready for the ride of their young lives.
Katie Resnick, a soon-to-be sophomore psychology major from Dallas’ Lakewood area, and Amanda Katsman, a second-year petroleum engineering student from New York and Moscow, are headed to Berlin for the 2015 European Maccabi Games.
“I’m looking forward to the competition; it’s like an Olympics,” Katsman said.
Resnick and Katsman are two of four American riders headed to the Games, which begin July 27. More than 2,000 athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 events.
Dressage competition begins Aug. 3.
But it will be hard to separate the sorority sisters while they’re there.
“It’s getting closer and closer to time, and we’re just exuberant,” Resnick said. “As much as I’m excited to go and be in the competition, I’m equally excited to go with my best friend.”
The pair met at tryouts for the Texas A&M equestrian team. Katsman’s background is strictly dressage riding (she’s competed all the way up to the Prix St. George level), while Resnick’s is in eventing. Neither were perfect fits for the fledgling college sport, which focuses more on hunter-jumper competition, a less-skilled, but technically difficult version of horsemanship that can appeal to greater numbers of amateur riders.
Forming a bond at tryouts
But while trying out, the pair found a bond that’s sparked their friendship.
“I went to the equestrian tryouts and met Katie there,” Katsman said. “I saw her name from Hillel and said, ‘This girl is Jewish.’ I got a ride back from Katie.”
And they’ve been best friends since, even sorority sist
Resnick was dead-set on joining Alpha Epsilon Phi, the first historically Jewish sorority at Texas A&M, but Katsman wasn’t so sure. Both rushed, both received bids, but Katsman didn’t want to accept her late-rolling bid. Resnick soon convinced her friend to join.
“I said, ‘OK, if Katie’s joining, I have to, too,’ ” Katsman said. “It’s nice that it’s Jewish, and at the same time, they’re very supportive of Maccabi.”
Resnick heard about the Games in 2012 from her
mother when the event was in Israel.
“She wanted me to do them, but at the time, I was too young,” Resnick said.
Resnick’s trainer applied and rode in those Games, further cementing Resnick’s fascination with riding on the international stage.
The next summer, Katsman, who hadn’t met Resnick yet, was a student worker at a German equestrian center. There she made plenty of contacts and friends.
Once Resnick and Katsman found each other in College Station, a plan quickly came into form. Both tried out. Katsman was accepted immediately, while Resnick had to wait for secondary acceptance.
Katsman, who has worked this month as an intern in New York City, will leave June 28 — a month early — for Germany to reunite with last year’s co-workers and train on one of their horses, a chestnut gelding. That will give her a major advantage when she competes in the advanced category at the games. Riders have the choice of using a Maccabi-supplied horse (which she only gets to learn for 30 minutes before each competition) or bringing their own (more than an expensive carry-on for the flight).
Resnick, meanwhile, will finish the summer on the banks of the Brazos, completing summer classes. She’s also training for Western riding, one of two disciplines in the college sport, in hopes of making the Aggie squad this fall.
She’ll leave July 26, and partially because she hasn’t been immersed in dressage since she started riding as Katsman has been, she’ll compete in the medium division.
Resnick is planning on riding a Maccabi-lent horse, but could borrow another.
“My current coach has connections. I might have a pony stallion in the Games,” she said.
If it works out, it could be a big boost. Neptune, the Danish national champion, could be her ride to a medal.
“I’m just looking forward to the entire overall experience,” Resnick said. “Competing is a big part … but traveling and going to see the sights we’re seeing is too.”
Resnick and Katsman plan to visit the Berlin Wall, Holocaust Museum, Brandenburg Gate and other sites. Katsman will celebrate her birthday the day after the Games.
The trip won’t be cheap, however.
Resnick, who attends Temple Shalom when she’s in Dallas, is holding a private auction Sunday to raise money for her trip. On the table will be golf bags, gift cards, jewelry, cosmetics and horsemanship-oriented items, too.
Here’s a link to donate to either rider. Note: Resnick’s first name is listed as Kathryn on the site: http://bit.ly/1FQfrNf
If everything goes according to plan, the pair might have a few more medals to show for their experience.