Written by Noah Ohayon
This winter, Emma Ticknor will represent the United States in women’s open field hockey at the 2023 Pan American Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will mark her debut at the Games, but her connection to Maccabi USA runs in her family.
Ticknor’s uncle, Thomas Glasser, ran Division III track at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, he participated in the 1981 Maccabiah in Israel, running the 400 meter and winning gold in the 4×400-meter relay. On 9/11 he was working as a partner at Sandler O’Neill investment bank on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center when a second plane hit the New York City landmark. He died at age 40. Although Emma was only 3 years old at the time, he greatly inspired her to compete in the Games.
“The Maccabiah Games have always been in conversation in our family,” she said. “The Games have always been meaningful in our family because it is a lasting Jewish legacy that Tom had.”
(Picture of Thomas winning gold in the 4×400 relay in the 1976 Maccabiah games in Israel. He is the second from right, with the number 95)
Now Ticknor is poised to carry on her uncle’s legacy in Argentina. “The USA uniform is about the little star of David in the corner, and wearing it with pride,” she said. “I get to play a sport that I love while representing all American Jews.”
Field hockey and Judaism have always been integral to Ticknor’s life.
Ticknor went to Madison High School in Morris County, New Jersey, where she played field hockey for four years. During the spring semester of her sophomore year, Ticknor attended the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. She was initially scared to travel abroad for the first time, but Ticknor looks back at her time in Israel as a formative experience. “Everybody on my program immediately felt like close friends,” she said, “and being in Israel made me realize it’s a space for Jews to connect and feel safe with one another. I was already connected to my Judaism, but being in Israel made it sink in.”
After high school, Ticknor became a Division III athlete just like her uncle. She played field hockey at Williams College in Massachusetts where she excelled on defense, midfield, and attack. She was named to the All-New England First Team, the All-NESCAC First Team, and 2nd Team All-American her senior year. And even though Williams’ Jewish student population was just over 10%, Ticknor would regularly visit the Jewish center on Shabbat where she made some of her closest friends.
Currently, Ticknor works as an associate consultant at Boston Consulting Group in New York City, where she is the head of Jewish affiliation for her office. In this role, she is involved in the company’s Jewish affiliation initiatives both regionally and nationally.
“Pretty much everywhere I go, I love finding a Jewish community,” she said.
So, when Ticknor steps onto the field in Buenos Aires, her journey will become more than just a personal accomplishment; it will extend her family’s tradition as a testament to the fusion of athletics and faith.