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A Sure-Footed Brother-and-Sister Soccer Act
For siblings Josh and Tracy Bienenfeld, playing in the World Maccabiah Games will be a sort of reunion.
The two haven't been around one another as teammates "since I was a freshman in high school and she was a senior, and we played on the same co-ed team," said Josh, age 21.
The Huntingdon Valley natives will compete on the open men's and women's soccer teams, respectively. Tracy, 24, who currently lives in Washington, D.C., had "the most amazing experience" of her life when she competed in the games four years ago.
Soccer and Judaism have long been the two most important things in her life; having the opportunity for them to overlap, she said, was a unique experience.
Said Tracy: "Being around people who were exactly like me -- athletic and Jewish -- was like being around people who understood who you were, and you didn't have to say anything. They just got you."
So she encouraged her younger brother to sign on when the men's soccer-team organizers sought him out.
Both have soccer in their blood, having played since childhood.
Josh is currently a senior at Duke University where he plays for the varsity team. He also continues to play for a number of teams in the local area when he's at home. Tracy plays for four different teams four nights a week in Washington.
Yet while Josh has professional aspirations, Tracy said that these games might be her last foray in competitive soccer.
Any soccer in her future, she said, may be a more casual affair.
Soccer is "a big part of my life, but it's not my life," she said.
At a competitive level like Maccabiah, she said,"there's that drive to want to win. It's not just, 'Let's go grab a drink after the game.' You're playing for something."
Though this will likely be her last Maccabiah experience as an athlete, she said that she wouldn't mind going as a coach or spectator.
Josh, on the other hand, will graduate in May with a psychology degree, and is considering business school. In the meantime, he's waiting to see what opportunities come his way.
The games "give you good exposure" to the people who draft professional clubs. "It's just another chance to play with great players and be seen by other people."