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2015 Pan Am Daily Update- January 4

Message from Josh Blank, Youth Men's Soccer

As I sit in my hotel room in Santiago staring at my packed luggage, I am feeling very bittersweet. Although my team unfortunately did not medal at the Pan American Maccabi Games, I still feel as though I am leaving a winner. I’ve met and made friends with kids from all over the country; I am certain we will stay in touch, whether via social media, texts, or through our “Maccabi USA Soccer” GroupMe chat, which has been constantly going since our time began together at our training camp in Miami.

Coming to Chile, I was unsure what to expect. Would my experience be more focused on being Jewish or on soccer? Obviously, soccer played a major role in my time here. That being said, I feel more proud to be a Jew having been at these Games. It’s difficult for me to explain the emotions I felt walking into the Opening Ceremony. Here I was, surrounded by 400+ Jews from the United States, marching into a stadium filled with thousands of Jews from dozens of countries. Not only that, everyone was smiling, trading gear and generally enjoying one another’s company. It didn’t matter that I spoke barely any Spanish; I immediately felt a real connection with my South American counterparts, and that is based on our shared Jewish faith.

At my team’s final dinner together, our coaches asked us to go around the table and share our favorite memories. My favorite memory was of the first goal my team scored in the tournament, against Israel. Your team scoring a goal is always fun, but I will never forget running to that corner flag, and mobbing and hugging my teammates. We scored for the United States of America… How cool is that? To my surprise, only a few of them mentioned something soccer related as their favorite memory. Rather, many spoke of the community service we did in one of the poorest neighborhoods I’ve ever seen in my life. Others spoke of the immense laughter we shared throughout the trip. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever laughed so much in my entire life.

I knew the true meaning of this trip yesterday, when our team was together at the biggest mall in South America, the Costanera. We had just lost two hours before in heartbreaking fashion, eliminating our chances of medaling. The locker room was somber; many tears were shed. But here we were, smiling and laughing and generally loving each other. It didn’t really matter that we had just lost; these kids will be my brothers for life.

A sincere thank you to all my teammates for making this trip so amazing for me, and to my coaches as well. I will never forget the times we shared together, and I’m hopeful to see everyone again in Israel in 2017!

All the best,

Josh Blank
Youth Men's Soccer

Team USA Results

Today's competitions: BasketballFutsal, RugbySoccerTennis & Volleyball

Stay tuned, as we will be providing an official medal count from these Games in the next few days!

Some Photos of Today's Medalists!

ow soccer medals.jpegrugby 7.jpeg

masters 2.JPGom vb medals hsDs.jpeg


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