Written by Elana Mutnick
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Deitcher is taking the term solo act to a whole new level. This Chicago native has no coach and is the only female on Maccabi USA’s bouldering team. Plus, she is competing for the very first time on an international stage.
“[A coach would be] able to give them insider tips and advice and direction, so I kind of had to figure it out by myself,” Deitcher said.
Deitcher said not having a coach, or any teammates she knew personally didn’t significantly affect her training because she is used to relying on herself when it comes to climbing. However, she said it would be interesting to see how differently her Maccabiah experience would be if she did have a support system that knew the sport well.
“I was able to take some kind of lessons before this, but a lot of it was me navigating how to prepare for a competition on my own,” Deitcher said.
Deitcher said she expected to meet other USA climbing athletes when she first arrived in Israel. However, to her surprise, she was the only official climber on the open team. Because she is a solo athlete for Maccabi USA, Israel handed over two of their athletes who will climb as “Maccabi USA” so Sarah won’t have to compete alone.
“Just being on a team, it does change a lot. Boosting morale and support throughout this whole thing, not just throughout the competitions. I did miss out on that. But I couldn’t have passed up on this opportunity,” said Deitcher.
Deitcher said she does not regret coming, and she was still able to build a family here in Israel. She said that tagging along with the different teams during Israel Connect was a blast, and she is forever grateful she had this opportunity.
“I was an honorable golf member and swimmer,” said Deitcher. “I did feel kind of a part of their community, but it is different being the only climber.”
Deitcher said she had taken so much from this experience, especially in the sport itself. She said transitioning from her usual indoor climbing setting to an outdoor competition where she would be climbing in sweltering Israel heat is tough, but knew everyone was dealing with the same challenges.
Deitcher said she is amused by the climber’s different approaches on each course and is grateful for the opportunity to compete alongside such talented athletes. Deitcher doesn’t plan on ending her climbing career here and said she wants to participate in future competitions.
“I am the climbing team,” said Deitcher.