Written by Elana Mutnick
An unfortunate injury prohibits New York City native Ben Callahan-Gold from winning gold at the 21st Maccabiah. During a scrimmage between USA’s 3×3 Men’s Open Basketball team and USA’s U18 Boys’ Basketball team, the 20-year-old twisted his ankle when going to block a shot, altering what he had in mind for his Maccabiah experience.
“I was really upset when it first happened, literally happening the day the tournament began. I put a lot of work into coming here to win a gold medal, and that was my mindset at the time,” said Callahan-Gold.
Initially, Maccabiah evenly split the 3×3 Men’s Open Basketball team. Closer to competition play, the athletes asked their coach to group them with those they played the best with to give the team the best shot at acquiring a gold medal. The head of Maccabiah approved the new line-ups, but for Callahan-Gold, the roster changes didn’t affect him anymore.
“If I weren’t injured, I would still be playing with the US 1 team, and I would still have a chance at winning gold,” said Callahan-Gold.
Callahan-Gold said there was a 24-hour period where he and his teammates debated whether he should come back early and try to play. Ultimately they decided it wasn’t worth risking further injuries that could affect his season at Trinity University.
“The Maccabiah is fun, but it’s not necessarily important for my future,” Callahan-Gold said.
Callahan-Gold was still able to experience the first week of the Maccabiah, journeying through Israel Connect with his teammates. He said one of the most rewarding things during the six days was carrying some paralympic athletes down a trail in Caesarea.
“It was an amazing bonding experience for the whole team,” said Callahan-Gold.
Even after his injury, Callahan-Gold said he can still appreciate being in Israel despite not playing. He said it has allowed him to explore Israel more, something he wouldn’t have been able to if he was not injured.
“Not being able to play allows me to actually experience Israel without the athletic part. I can go out later and appreciate more cultural aspects than my team can,” said Callahan-Gold.
Despite being unable to play, Callahan-Gold still finds ways to stay active within his team. He took a coaching role on the court and communicated with his teammates from the sideline to help improve their game. He said he could see himself coaching sometime in the future, but for now, he wants to focus on his recovery and return to the court.
“I’m in Israel with my teammates, and this is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I love my teammates, so it makes this whole thing a lot easier for me,” said Callahan-Gold.