On Saturday, Leah Levey will board a flight to Israel, embarking on her fifth trip to the country. But this time around, she’s got a new goal in mind—a soccer goal, to be exact. The rising senior is one of 20 women selected for the USA Women’s Soccer Team for the 19th Maccabiah Games.
The Maccabiah Games is a major Jewish athletic event, held in Israel every four years the year after the Olympic Games. Teams from all over the world attend, with the 2009 games drawing Jewish athletes from more than 50 countries competing in 31 events.
Levey will compete in the open division of the games, along with 19 teammates from universities across the country. Levey is one of two athletes representing NCAA Division III schools; most of the other players are from Division I programs such as University of Texas, Duke University and Stanford University.
Being selected for a team with such high-caliber players is an honor for Levey—but a little nerve-racking as well, she admitted. “To be honest, it is intimidating to know that I am going to play with all of these very talented players,” she said. “But, overall I am extremely excited because I know playing soccer at this high level will be so much fun, and I think training with them will make me a better player.”
The games will be an opportunity for Levey to prepare for her senior season at Case Western Reserve. So far in her Spartan career, the nutrition major is a three-time All-University Athletic Association selection, a National Soccer Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region pick and a two-time Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association Division III Academic All-Ohio First Team honoree. In high school, she was named the Ohio State Most Valuable Player after helping her team win the 2009 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II State Championship.
For someone who’s played and watched soccer for as long as she can remember, being selected for the Maccabiah Games is a major honor and learning experience. But it also provides her an opportunity to make new friends and see Israel, which she hasn’t visited since she was 13.
Levey will be in Israel for nearly a month, with the games taking place July 17-30. Her first week in Israel will be filled with training, but during the second week, they have a little more time for exploring Israel with the other American teams and getting to know athletes from other countries. During her last two weeks, she will have a game almost every day, keeping she and her teammates busy—and likely exhausted.
She’ll return to the U.S. Aug. 1, just in time to come back to campus for the fall season. As she enters her senior year, she’s ready to get back into the game, and also continue her passion for soccer off the field: She’s the founder of the Case Western Reserve chapter of the Likoni Community Football League, an international nonprofit organization that helps provide a safe, structured soccer system for students in Kenya. Last year, their apparel and equipment drive benefited more than 600 children there.
What else is there to know about Levey? Find out in this week’s five questions (and wish her luck in her upcoming competition).
1. If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be and why?
I would be a food critic, or any job where I can get paid to eat.
2. What’s your favorite TV show of all time?
“Friends,” by a landslide.
3. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When people delay my eating!
4. What is the best class you’ve ever taken—from elementary school through higher education—and what skills or lessons did you learn that you still use today?
Gym class in elementary school. Whenever we played a game called “Star Wars” it was the best day!
5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
My favorite thing is that my professors are so understanding of my commitment to athletics, and my coach understands the importance of academics.