Aly Raisman, the Hava Nagila girl at the London Olympics, will not be competing in the 19th Maccabiah Games opening Thursday, but she will perform a special gymnastics exhibition. Without doubt, she is the star of Team USA, but backing her up are some other serious Jewish jocks, such as swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale, basketball coaches Danny Schayes and Brad Greenberg, and softball coach Erez Borowsky. Here are short bios of these five standouts among the vaunted American contingent.
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Garrett Weber-Gale won two team gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the most memorable coming in the 4 X 100 freestyle relay, in which he swam second and finished his lap in 47.02 seconds. Hailing from Wisconsin, he came to national notice on the University of Texas swim team.
Danny Schayes, head coach of Team USA's masters men's basketball squad, is the son of Baskeball Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, but he has made a big name for himself in the game in his own right. A top college center at Syracuse University, he went on to an 18-year NBA career, the longest of any NBA Jewish player. At 6'11" (2.11 meters ), he was also the league's tallest-ever Jewish player. In 1,138 regular season games, Schayes scored 8,780 points (7.7 per game ) and grabbed 5,671 rebounds (five per game ). A formidable free-throw shooter who averaged 80.6% from the line, Schayes enjoyed his finest seasons with the Denver Nuggets from 1983-1990. In 1987-88 he scored 1,129 points (13.9 per game ) and grabbed 662 rebounds (8.2 per game ). In 1993-94 he earned $1.75 million with the Milwaukee Bucks. Today he runs the All-Star Hoops Academy in Arizona.
At home in Haifa
Brad Greenberg, head coach of Team USA's open men's basketball team, coached Maccabi Haifa to the Israeli Premier League championship this past season. In 2012-13, Haifa had a 17-10 regular season record and they stepped it up a notch to win six of eight playoff games before defeating perennial powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, 86-79, in the championship game. Greenberg has served as an assistant and head coach in the U.S. college ranks, as well as director of player personnel for the Portland Trailblazers and Philadelphia 76ers. He was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Internationally, he has been assistant coach for the Venezuelan national team in FIBA competition.
Erez Borowsky, a veteran Maccabiah Team USA softball player, is assistant coach for the American men's master's softball team this time around. Born in Spain to Israeli parents, Borowsky played baseball in the United States, going on to play for Vanderbilt University. He was signed by the Minnesota Twins and played catcher in the minor leagues in 1982-85, playing his last season at the AA level for Orlando. In 300 career minor league games, Borowsky had a .237 batting average and hit 11 home runs.
Aly Raisman, the 19-year old gymnast who won hearts worldwide in the 2012 London Olympics, will not be competing in the Maccabiah Games, as originally expected, but will be performing a special exhibition instead. At London she spoke publicly about the 11 Israeli Olympians slain at the 1972 Munich Games, and performed her routine to the song "Hava Nagila." She won three medals in the Olympics last year - an individual gold and team gold in the floor exercises, and an individual bronze on the balance beam. Upon receiving their team gold medal, Aly and her teammates sang "Hava Nagila" on the podium.