Right off the bat, two things are clear; Eric Holtz, the Head Coach of Maccabi USA’s Juniors Boys’ Baseball team for the 2017 World Maccabiah Games, loves Israel and loves baseball. “Going to Israel brings out everything in you about being alive,” remarks Holtz, who was the Assistant Coach of the same age team that won a gold medal at the 2013 World Maccabiah Games. “Being there for baseball is the cherry on top.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, Baseball has always played a major role in Eric’s life. Upon finishing his education, Eric entered the corporate world, but the itch for baseball never left him. He acted as the Hitting Coach for Manhattanville College’s Baseball team from 2004-2007 and also as the Assistant Coach for the Softball team in 2007, when they won their first-ever Skyline Conference championship. Having manufactured clothing for 25+ years, Eric yearned to get back to playing baseball; he just never assumed his return would come about the way it did.
In 2007, the Israeli Baseball League was founded. “On a whim, I went to go try out for this new goofy league,” he recalls. “Here I was, surrounded by college kids. I had a great day, and with my coaching experience, they offered me a contract to spend nine weeks in Israel as a player/manager for the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox.” It was his first time in Israel; his wife and three kids visited for three of those weeks. “Basically, I fell in love with the country,” he says. Although the league disbanded after one year, Eric left his mark, as he was presented with the Commissioner’s Award for Distinguished Service.
Eric’s roommate during his time in the Israeli Baseball League was Nate Fish, himself a four-time Maccabi USA alumnus and the Head Coach of Maccabi USA’s Juniors Boys’ Baseball team at the 2013 Maccabiah. “He (Nate) basically became my little brother when we were in Israel together,” explained Holtz. Fast forward to 2013, and Nate has been named the Juniors Head Coach for the Maccabiah. “He calls me up and goes ‘Holtzy, what do you think about coaching at the Maccabiah?’”, remembers Eric. “For me, the opportunity to return to Israel and take kids that had never been there before and give them the experience I had in 2007 was one that I could not turn down.”
(Juniors Boys’ Baseball team from the 2013 World Maccabiah Games)
To Eric’s surprise, he remembers his time in 2013 as taking on a greater meaning outside of baseball, and plans to impart that mind-set on his players in 2017. As he put it, “Sure, winning is obvious, but it’s more important to me to instill the feeling I have for Israel in the 16 or 18 young men who will be joining me on this trip.”
Today, he is the owner and founder of Game On 13, a baseball and softball strength and conditioning training facility located in Westchester County, New York.
Maccabi USA is currently seeking Juniors Boys’ Baseball players, born from 1999-2002, for the 2017 World Maccabiah Games. To apply, click HERE! For more information, please contact Shane Carr, Program Director at 215.561.6900 x. 4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.