DURHAM, N.H. – Scott Rowling (Richboro, Pa.), a senior midfielder for the University of New Hampshire men’s soccer team, was named one of 20 members of the United States men’s soccer team that will compete at the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel from July 12-23.
“I’m honored,” said Rowling. “It’s an opportunity to represent your country and your school.”
The Maccabiah Games, also referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” are held in Israel every four years and include the top Jewish athletes from around the world. The 17th games in 2005 attracted the largest Maccabiah attendance in history. With over 50 countries represented by 7,700 athletes, including 900 from the U.S., the Maccabiah Games became the third largest sporting event in the world. This year, the U.S. is looking to take over 1,000 athletes, including Olympic athletes such as swimmers Dara Torres and Jason Lezak.
“It will be fun and should be a great experience,” said Rowling. “Getting to visit my homeland will be pretty cool and will be a great opportunity to meet new people.”
Rowling becomes the seventh UNH athlete to participate in the Maccabiah Games. The most recent being fellow UNH student-athlete Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) who was named to the U.S. men’s basketball Maccabiah team in October.
“I am excited for him because this was his chance,” Rob Thompson, head coach of the UNH men’s soccer team, said. “I feel like this is the right time for him because at the end of the day it’s awesome an opportunity. This is what he is going to be talking about in 20 years.”
Rowling traveled to Plantation, Fla. over winter break to partake in tryouts for three days during the weekend of Dec.19-21. He was one of about 80 players at the tryout, with participants ranging from 18 to 40 years of age.
“It was tough,” he said. “But I just did what I’ve done for the last 20 years and just played my game. I just wanted to play within myself.”
Rowling makes his debut at the Maccabiah Games as one of only 13 Division I student-athletes to make the team. What is more, Rowling is one of only two America East student-athletes to earn the honor, as Boston University defender Daniel Schultz also made the team.
In addition, Rowling will be joined by some experienced company, as Bennie Feilhaber, Jeff Agoos, and Jonathan Bornstein all make their return from the last Maccabiah Games four years ago.
Coaching the squad will be Seth Roland, the head coach of the Fairleigh Dickinson University men’s soccer program for the last 11 years. Michael Erush, the assistant men’s soccer coach at Loyola Marymount University, will join Roland on the staff.
All athletes, coaches and trainers who participate in the Maccabiah Games must make a monetary commitment to the program. The obligation or “Yachad,” meaning “together” in Hebrew, is shared among all participants.
Rowling must raise $3,300 in order to take part in the Games.
“It was too good to pass up,” said Rowling. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is something that not everyone gets to do.”