Zoe Kagan '17, far right, with members of Team USA. (Photo: Team USA)

For Culture and Country

Laurentians at the 2017 Maccabiah Games

Beth Spadaccini ’11

While St. Lawrence student-athletes are proud to represent the Scarlet and Brown when they put on their uniforms, a select few have had the opportunity to represent their countries in international athletic competition as well. Women’s squash alumna Zoë Kagan ’17 and current women’s tennis player Haley Sherrard ’20 each competed at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel over the summer; Kagan with Team USA, and Sherrard with Team Canada. The Maccabiah Games are often referred to as the “Jewish Olympics” and this year’s games included more than 10,000 athletes from more than 80 countries.

Kagan brought home a silver medal as part of the Open Women’s USA Squash team and won all three of her matches in the No. 4 spot during a three-day series with the eventual gold medalist, Israel. Sherrard participated in open women’s singles, open women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at the games. Both Kagan and Sherrard consider their trips to the Maccabiah Games a once in a lifetime experience and a dream come true.

“For many of the athletes, the Games may be the only international stage for competition that they ever participate in, representing a greater opportunity to bond and share cultural experiences without fear of feeling excluded due to nationality or cultural practices,” Kagan said. “I really enjoyed bonding with Team USA and feeling a sense of togetherness for the idea that we were supporting one another locally and globally because we all had some degree of Jewish culture in common.”

For Sherrard, the immensity of experience set in on day one. “Representing your country is an irreplaceable feeling,” she said. “It didn’t hit me how extraordinary the games really are until I was in the tunnel about to enter the stadium during opening ceremonies, with close to 600 other Canadian athletes chanting ‘Canada, Canada, Canada.’ It is really something you could only dream about.”

Sherrard also made a surprising Laurentian connection during the opening ceremonies, when Lauren Weisbarth ’13, who played for the Canadian softball team at the Games, noticed the SLU sticker on the back of her phone.

The Maccabiah Games are the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition and aim to stage high-level sports competitions while also strengthening the athletes’ connection to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The games began in 1932 and are held quadrennially.

Haley Sherrard '20 (right) with twin sister Dana who also competed for Team Canada. (Photo: Team Canada)