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Seligman, Beck of Men's Ice Hockey Reflect on Maccabiah Games Experience

Seligman, Beck of Men's Ice Hockey Reflect on Maccabiah Games Experience

BABSON PARK, Mass.—Recent Babson College men's ice hockey alum Bill Seligman '17 (Toronto, Ontario) and rising sophomore Josh Beck (Scituate, Mass.) had the unique opportunity to represent their respective countries and learn more about their heritage while taking part in the 20th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem last month.
 
The Maccabiah Games, which are often referred to as the Jewish Olympics, have been held every four years in Israel dating back to 1932. The 2017 games featured more than 10,000 athletes from 80 countries competing in 47 sports, and was the third largest sporting event in the world behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. In addition to representing their countries in competition, athletes have the opportunity to tour Israel and further explore their heritage with other Jewish athletes from around the world.
 
Seligman, who represented Team Canada, got the best of Beck's Team USA squad in both pool play and the gold medal game, but both left Jerusalem with memories that will last a lifetime. "Representing your country on any stage is an honor and privilege, and being able to play the sport I love while representing the Canadian Jewish community has been an unforgettable experience. Wearing the Canadian colors and symbol while walking on the main stage during the opening ceremonies was incredible. Being able to proudly represent myself and my country in front of 30,000 spectators was one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of."
 
Beck, who called the experience of the opening ceremonies jaw-dropping, found a similar sense of pride in his experience. "Being able to put on the USA jersey has been incredible. We came back from a two-goal deficit late in the third period in our first game against Canada and the crowd was chanting U-S-A. It's a rare experience to be able to represent your country, and I have really enjoyed it."
 
Away from the hockey rink, both players had the opportunity to travel and see all that Israel has to offer alongside their teammates through the Israel Connect program. "Some of the highlights were visiting the Old City section of Jerusalem, visiting the Western Wall, swimming in the Dead Sea and traveling to the peak of Masada," said Beck.
 
"We rode camels at the Bedouin tents and had a chance to explore Jerusalem and Tel Aviv," added Seligman. "We also indulged in some delicious Israeli cuisine. The shwarma and falafel were a big hit on our team."
 
The culmination of the 20th Maccabiah Games for Beck and Seligman was the gold medal contest between the United States and Canada on July 15. Seligman's squad struck for a pair of early goals and never trailed on the way to taking home the gold with a 7-2 victory. For both players, the experience went beyond the final score.
 
"Although we didn't get the result we had hoped for in the gold medal game, playing in front of nearly 10,000 people, many of whom were watching hockey for the first time, was an experience I'll never forget," said Beck. "For thousands of Israelis, this tournament was an introduction to ice hockey and we were the ambassadors of the sport. It's been so amazing to meet so many athletes who share a similar story of being the only Jewish athlete on their respective team. To take part in the Maccabiah Games and instantly be a member of a large family has been incredible."
 
"I will never forget playing in the gold medal game in front of friends and family," added Seligman. "Being able to lace them up and wear the Team Canada jersey with pride one last time was the experience of a lifetime. Meeting other Jewish athletes from around the world, trading pins and clothes during the event, and hearing the stories and journeys of other athletes along their careers was very humbling."

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