Ellie Vest, starting outside hitter for the R.I. State Champion East Providence Girls Volleyball team, represented the Rhode Island Jewish community in December as a member of the winning USA Girls U16 Volleyball team at the Pan Am Maccabi Games, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The USA team’s players hailed from California, Texas, Florida, Virginia and Rhode Island, and, despite having only two short practices before competition began, went undefeated in game play and beat Mexico in the finals to win the gold. The Girls U16 team was the only MaccabiUSA volleyball team to take home a gold medal.
“It was a really special experience,” Vest, who turned 16 in November, said in a recent interview. “Meeting Jewish teens from around the world was so eye-opening. There were over 3,500 athletes from 27 countries, and hands down the Latin American kids and their fans were the most spirited and fun.”
“It was also at times an emotional experience,” Vest continued. “The Girls U18 Volleyball team from Israel attended the competition, and all the girls were from Kibbutz Be’eri. Their experiences were unimaginable. One of the girls’ moms, Sharon Cohen, spoke to the delegations, telling her story of survival [on Oct. 7]. It was hard not to root for their team, which took home the U18 silver medal.”
Hear Ellie Vest talk about her road to the Maccabi Games at http://tinyurl.com/mtuk4z79.