Team Westside’s luggage was a little heavier on its return flight from the Maccabi Games in Houston last month. Athletes won a combined total of 18 medals in three sports at the annual competition, which took place Aug. 5-10.
The boys’ 16-and-under basketball team took home the gold medal while one of the two Team Westside boys’ 14-and-under squads took silver. Team Westside, which sent 65 athletes total, won five medals in tennis events and swam away with 11 medals in various individual and team swimming events.
Although the majority of the week was spent in competition, all of the athletes at the Maccabi Games engaged in a community service day as part of “JCC Cares.” On Aug. 7, Team Westside athletes created art projects with inner-city youth in a partnership with a local YMCA.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Maccabi Games, which is organized by the Jewish Community Center Association.
Though the competition is only once a year, Westside JCC Assistant Executive Director Ronnel Conn said that the Team Westside athletes would engage in social and bonding activities throughout the year, including group Shabbat dinners.
“At Westside JCC, we stress that this is not just a one-week competition,” he said. “The Maccabi Games are a yearlong experience.”
Meanwhile, Team Milken, which participated at Maccabi Games in Rockland, N.Y., and in Memphis, Tenn., also claimed a hefty number of medals. In Memphis, Team Milken took home 60 medals, including 40 in track and field events and 16 in swimming. In Rockland, Team Milken recorded 32 more medals, with 25 in swimming.
After the closing of the Milken JCC in West Hills earlier this year, Team Milken competed in the 2012 Maccabi Games under the auspices of the Westside JCC. Team Milken sent 115 athletes to the two venues.
“We had a fantastic year,” said Philip Benditson, who chairs the Milken delegations. “Our athletes had a fantastic time, and we’re very blessed to be this athletically talented.”