Celebrating Success – Ottawa’s Maccabiah Athletes

Countdown to the Maccabiah Games – July 4-18, 2017
On Thursday, February 2nd, the Ottawa Athletes competing at the 20th Maccabiah Games in July, held their kick-off event at NeXT restaurant in Stittsville. As Chef Blackie mentioned, Erica Wiebe (2016 Gold Medalist in Wrestling) held a fundraiser at NeXT before going to Rio – and she won Gold.

Surrounded by friends and family, every one of our Ottawa based athletes felt like a Gold medalist as CTV’s Lianne Laing introduced them one by one to loud applause. Lianne shared her Maccabiah story and the pride she felt walking in to the stadium and singing Hatikvah in Israel, surrounded by Jewish athletes representing their countries. She still remembers it as though it was yesterday.

Lianne was joined by 2010 Olympic Hockey Gold Medalist, Tessa Bonhomme, and together they shared their experiences about representing Canada, life after sports and of course – visiting Israel. Tessa also shared her Olympic experience from the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver in 2010, when as the host country, Team Canada waited to be the last country to walk into the stadium. She remembers standing near Hayley Wickenheiser (the captain of the women’s hockey team) who told her “Wait for it. Put away your phone – someone else will be videoing for you. You will never be able to recreate the feeling you’re about to have”. Hayley was speaking from experience. When the doors opened, the cheers were so loud that Tessa remembers feeling a wave that blew her hair back.

The conversation then moved to Tessa’s visit to Israel in 2014. She discussed travelling to Israel to teach hockey with Laurie Boschman, and visiting the Wailing Wall, Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea, and other attractions.  She recalls how ascending Masada at 9:00am, it was so hot that the sweat on the group of athletes that decided to walk down the mountain, evaporated before it was able to stain their jerseys.

Alexa Shabinsky and Hayley Bennett also shared their personal stories and what drew them to become Maccabi athletes in the 20th Maccabiah July 2017: the thrill of competing internationally, and the thrill of their first visit to Israel. Alexa, a grade 12 student at Ashbury, will compete in track and field, and Hayley, a mother of three, will compete in softball, just like her Grandma Fleming.

This event demonstrated once again how Maccabi Canada, sport and Israel build a community and Jewish pride.  All proceeds raised at the event will go to support Ottawa based athletes in need who will compete in Israel this summer. For more information about Maccabi Canada and the 20th Maccabiah click here.

Picture, from left to right: Alexa Shabinsky (track), Haley Miller (rhythmic gymnastics), Jaime Bender-Kerbel (jr. baseball), Coby Pearce (jr. tennis), Jesse Levine (tennis champion), Dan Osterer (softball), Hayley Bennett (softball). Missing from photo: Rob Osterer (softball), Stephen Osterer (softball), Ken Kaczkowski (wrestling), Lauren Shaffer (swimming), Alex Aronovici (swimming).