Lincoln's Abbie Faingold
Lincoln High graduate and former Fighting Zebras’ soccer player Abbie Faingold was selected by Team USA to compete in the 2015 Maccabi Games in Berlin, German and brought home no less than gold.
The Maccabi Games are much like the Olympic Games and like them take place once every four years. The athletes are exclusively Jewish and this year the Games were played in the stadium where the 1936 Olympics were held; in those Games Jews were excluded.
“We went to some train tracks near the Olympic Park that showed engraved on the side of the tracks the date and the number of Jews that were being deported, and to where … , like the name of the death camp,” Faingold said, “And that kind of hit home because my grandfather was deported. He lived in Poland and was sent to Auschwitz, so that kind of hit home.”
Unlike the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis on the Jews 70 years ago, Berlin opened their arms to the visitors. The Maccabi Games came off beautifully and Faingold, a goalkeeper, and her teammates made the best of it.
Team USA went on to take the gold defeating Sweden 5-0, Germany 2-0, Netherlands 6-0 and Sweden again in the gold-medal match 2-0.
“I think maybe me and the other goalkeeper had eight shots on us all tournament. Our defense basically shut down any offense on the other teams,” Faingold said. “They just couldn’t really generate anything and our forwards were able to keep the ball on the other side of the field.”
Not bad for a team that had just four practices before heading for Germany.
Faingold and her teammates had just three days to prepare for the Games. She said her fellow athletes ranged from age 28 to just out of high school.
Following her gold-medal winning trip, Faingold returned to Portland State University in Portland, Ore., where she plays soccer on scholarship. Faingold barely had time to exchange her USA jersey for a Vikings uniform.
“I didn’t have a lot of time to settle back in, especially from the nine hour time difference,” Faingold said. “I had to jump back into practices.
Portland States’ first game is an exhibition contest Aug. 18.
Although it is back to school and life as usual for the red-shirt sophomore, her trip to Germany will be one she won’t soon forget.
Faingold said she and her teammates were able to visit many sites in Berlin when they weren’t either practicing or competing. She said the time together also drew them closer as a team and gave them the opportunity to meet other athletes from around the world.
“[N]ot only did we become closer as a team, but we also got to meet a lot of other people from different countries and we all shared the common ground of being Jewish,” said Faingold. “It was just neat to meet new people. It was awesome to see all those people and just be able to celebrate the games together.”
Faingold expressed gratitude to her coaches, teammates and to all those who so generously donated to make the trip possible – especially her parents
Abbie Faingold, not only athlete of the week, but ambassador as well.