By Ken and Drew Hoffman, JCC Members/Team South Jersey Coach and Athlete
There have been many father-son duos in sports over the years. Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr., Cecil and Prince Fielder, Gordie and Mark Howe, to name a few. But no father-son duo has accomplished more than what my dad and I have accomplished.
We entered the Maccabi baseball system in 2011, when the Mid-Atlantic Junior Maccabi Games were hosted in Cherry Hill. Our team was a mix of talented players, each of us with different things to offer, and we ended up wearing gold after a seven-inning tie that we will never forget. What we did not know at the time was that the next six Maccabi Games would end in a similar fashion: a medal being hung around our necks, some of the same core guys, returning along with my dad and me, year after year.
The next six years would bring another gold medal (won in Philadelphia in 2013), three silvers (Harrisburg in 2012, Cherry Hill in 2014 and Ft. Lauderdale in 2015), and two bronze (Stamford in 2016 and Albany in 2017). A perfect 7/7 in medals, not too shabby.
While earning the medals was quite an accomplishment, the extent of Maccabi goes beyond the winning aspect and the actual games played. For us, the joy is in how the Games can bring thousands of Jews from all over the world closer together. When we are all together, be it at Opening Ceremonies, at one of the night activities, or at the closing event, we are one. No hate group, no person, can deny our Judaism, our religious beliefs, our sense of community.
Each year’s Games are different, with the teams we oppose, the players on the team, and the tournament itself. But this year, Albany was something special. Having the same nine players on the field at once, in each and every game we played, with no true catcher and some injuries that did not allow some of our long time guys to play, we kept on fighting and did not let any of that hold us back.
Being together each year has made the Games so special to our family. It has brought us closer as father and son, and given us some of the most amazing memories to look back on. We are grateful for the Maccabi Games and what they have brought to our lives.