Same field, new team: Voorhees resident Marlee Dannenbaum leads girls’ soccer team at Maccabi Games
Voorhees resident Marlee Dannenbaum, 16, is one of the few athletes who could play on her home turf at the 2014 JCC Maccabi Games.
While the official host of the games is the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, Eastern Regional High School is a main hub for a number of events, including girls’ soccer.
Dannenbaum was granted the opportunity to play at home when she was named to South Jersey Team Red for the Maccabi Games. Dannenbaum was one of nine players named to the team for the games.
The process to get on the team was not an easy one. All players had to go through tryouts. The players who were picked were then placed on either Team Red or Team White.
After teams were selected, practices began. Dannenbaum said both teams practiced for months leading up to the tournament.
“We practiced every Sunday starting in March and April,” she said. “Starting July, we started doing two or three practices a week.”
The feeling of taking the pitch for the Maccabi Games is completely different from going out to play for the Eastern Vikings. Dannenbaum said there is a sense of regional pride playing for Team South Jersey. The team is a compilation of the best Jewish youth girls’ soccer players in the area, and Dannenbaum feels a sense of pride being among them.
“I think it’s so cool,” she said. “Whenever you’re walking around and you see someone with a shirt, you’re just like, ‘Go Team South Jersey!’ It’s so cool being on this team.”
On the field, Dannenbaum plays midfield. The soccer competition in the Maccabi Games features just seven players on each side, meaning each player is responsible for a larger portion of the field.
This hasn’t deterred Dannenbaum. During a pool play game on Tuesday against Ft. Lauderdale, she was all over the field, making a number of crucial tackles during the first half. Team South Jersey won the game 2–1 to finish pool play with a perfect 4–0 record.
While aggressive on the field, Dannenbaum has enjoyed the experience of meeting fellow athletes off the field. With athletes coming from across the country and from foreign nations such as Israel and Mexico, the games have provided her with a great opportunity to make new friends.
“They’re all so different,” Dannenbaum said. “It’s really cool getting to meet new people.”
After the games end, Dannenbaum will shift her focus back to Eastern soccer with the season just a few weeks away.
However, she’s in no rush to jump ahead to the fall. Right now, her focus is on Team South Jersey and bringing home a gold medal.