BROOKVILLE, N.Y. – While Northern Arizona women's basketball assistant coach Jamie Shadian may be new to Flagstaff and the NAU Athletics program, she has long been one of the most visible and active members of the United States basketball program that competes every four years at the Maccabiah Games in Israel. As the head coach for the women's basketball team for the 2013 games, Shadian selected her team last week from the best Jewish basketball players in the country for an Olympic encore next summer.
"It combines my two biggest passions, basketball and Israel, and to be able to have the two of them connected is pretty special," said Shadian. "Coach Darling was nice enough to allow me to continue to participate after I joined her staff. It is a big commitment and takes up all of July but it's great for my development as a coach. It's a great experience to work with very talented young players."
The Maccabiah Games, which consist of more than 30 sports and 50 countries and include opening and closing ceremonies in front of as many as 50,000 people, are open to Jewish athletes as well as Israeli athletes regardless of religion. The games have been held every four years since 1932 in the year following the Summer Olympics and had a record 7,000 athletes for the 2009 games. Several Jewish Olympic gold medalists such as Mark Spitz and Jason Lezak have competed in the games.
After playing professionally in Israel for four years following her collegiate playing career at the University of San Francisco, Shadian became involved with the program prior to the 2009 games and served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Juniors team at that competition. She was selected to be the head coach of the open team for the 2013 games and chose two assistant coaches as well as 12 players from tryouts last weekend in Long Island, N.Y.
Shadian selected her team from 25 athletes at the tryout which was open to those between the ages of 18 and 32, though the majority of her team is comprised of incoming collegiate student-athletes. The team will convene in Israel during the first week of July for five days of training camp followed by a week of morning training sessions and traveling the country in the evenings. There will then be two weeks of competition, July 18-30, among the six countries that will be sending women's basketball teams to the games– The United States, Israel, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Hungry.
Four of the players that Shadian selected for the team played for the Juniors team she coached at the 2009 games, where Israel took the gold medal. Among Shadian's assistants is Jackie Pearl, the daughter of former Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who was the head coach of the US Maccabiah men's basketball team in 2009. The head coach for the men's team in 2013 will be former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg, as Shadian is among the United States coaching elite in being selected to lead the women's team.
"Literally we will have four weeks together and that will be it, so it's an intense month but an incredible experience," Shadian said. "I keep in touch with at least half of the girls I coached three years ago and they all walked away with 11 new sisters. I'm really excited to experience that again and try to bring home the gold."