UPDATE: The U.S. youth division basketball team, coached by an Ardmore resident, beat Israel in Sunday's gold medal match.
Ardmore resident Jamie Chadwin coached the U.S. youth division basketball team. This post was written before the championship game — find the results here.
We have reached the point of our trip where our goal is within reach. Tonight, the U.S. youth division basketball team will compete for a gold medal.
We've had so many unforgettable experiences so far. At the opening ceremony, we mingled with other athletes and coaches from every delegation. We met tons of new people and, of course, traded some gear. The entrance of Team USA was met with the second loudest ovation. (Israel took top honors.) It was a tremendous rush for all of us.
Needless to say, our team was very excited to get on the court and play in our first game against South Africa. We came out very focused and played with great enthusiasm and execution, which took us to a 105-15 win. Everyone made major contributions.
In our next game, we defeated Great Britain 101 to 28. In another good effort, we defeated Turkey 100 to 11.
Then in the semifinals, we faced Brazil. It was a total team effort during a tough, physical game. I loved the poise and mental toughness our guys showed throughout the game. We won 63-37 for the chance to compete against Israel for the gold medal.
In the days before the gold medal match, we practiced at Wingate and had a great public film session in the Maccabiah cyber zone. We had a nice crowd for this session but the kids were very focused on learning about our opponent.
We then traveled to a small Israel Defense Forces base consisting of only 20 soldiers, all between the ages of 18 and 24. This hit home for our guys. We talked about their missions and their role in the Israeli army. We shared stories about what it means to be a part of a team. The soldiers were big basketball fans and our guys quickly became fans of these soldiers.
Even though our goal entering this trip was to "win everything," we appreciate the impact of those who we have met, the places we have visited and the relationships we have forged. This is a spectacular country that stretches far beyond its physical borders. We are lucky to have had this opportunity and are all better people for it.