By Sydney Falchook
During the summer of 2013, junior Jarett Greben represented New York in lacrosse at the Maccabi Games in Orange County, California. He participated in the hope of growing as an athlete and enjoying the friendly competition. What he did not expect, however, was to be recruited for the Israel U19 National Lacrosse team.
Without any hesitation, Greben replied yes, becoming the team’s newest recruit.
The Israel U19 National Lacrosse team is governed by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) and coached by Harvard assistant coach, Ben Smith, and Major League Lacrosse players, Adam Crystal and Casey Cittadino. The team also participates in an international tournament, as well as multiple exhibition games throughout the year. “I wanted to participate because it was a great opportunity to not only play lacrosse around the world but also to visit Israel and grow the game,” Greben explained.
In December, the team traveled to Israel. Despite the new locale, Greben adhered to his Rebel lacrosse pre-game rituals: wake up, eat breakfast, and practice. Instead of running up and down on South’s soil, Greben trained at the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel. And instead of running to the deli after practice, he climbed to the top of Masada or visited the Western Wall. “We were always on the go,” said Greben.
After five days of training in Israel, the team relocated to Poland, where they played against the Polish and Latvian Olympic teams. All games took place in the Arena Fútbol, an indoor sports stadium.
The first game of the day was played against Latvia. “The Latvians were extremely big, most of them topping six-foot-four and 220 lbs.,” Greben recalled. “Unfortunately, that game did not play out like a normal lacrosse game should; it was more of a free-for-all.”
After recuperating from the Latvian game, the team was prepared to take on Poland. As the two teams exchanged goal for goal, the game intensified. With only two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Greben stormed onto the field with ambition in his eyes. He knew what the team needed to do; he knew what he needed to do. Score.
And that is just what he did. Greben worked his way behind the goal towards “X,” and set up his stance to take his defender one-on-one. He stutter-stepped left, then right. All that stood in his way now was the goalie. Greben faked high, shot low. Goal. His teammates rushed over to him, all filled with excitement, and jumped in celebration. Greben helped his team win not only the game but the entire tournament. “It was extremely exhilarating,” said Greben.
While many might consider this to be a very memorable moment, Greben said what stood out most to him during the trip was teaching kids how to play lacrosse in the Ashkelon elementary schools, and growing the game. In both Poland and Israel, the Israel U19 National Team set up scrimmages for students to watch at local schools. The children would line up on the sidelines and exuberantly cheer, as this was the first time they had seen an organized lacrosse game. “It was like something I have never seen before; it was definitely surreal,” Greben said,
Due in part to this experience, Greben plans on continuing his lacrosse career in college and competing against Ireland in March of this year, here on the Island. “I hope to see myself playing for the Israel Men’s World Games Team in the future,” Greben said.