Rudins Make Maccabi Games A Family Affair

January 10, 2007

The following is an article written by Todd Sliss that appeared in The Scarsdale Inquirer, Friday, August 25, 2006. It summarizes a great experience enjoyed this summer by Middlebury College men's basketball player, Ben Rudin.

The only thing that could have made the Maccabi Games in Sydney, Australia more memorable for the Rudin family is if dad Mitchell and son Ben had played on the same basketball team. With Mitchell taking the basketball court for the sixth time n the master (over-40) division and Ben debuting with the open team (over-18), it was nothing short of a perfect week from July 2 -10.

In addition to being part of the world-wide celebration of their Jewish faith and love of sports, Ben's team won the gold medal, Mitchell's the silver.

"It was cool being out there together at Maccabis this time around," Ben said. "We stayed for all of each other's games. It was special walking into the opening ceremonies together at the Sydney Opera House."

"The opening ceremonies together and being at the same venue seeing each other play made this a great experience for me," Mitchell said. "It was very special to see Ben win gold and have a full medal ceremony. He said he didn't realize how meaningful it would be."

The 2006 Games in Sydney represented Mitchell's sixth - he had played in the World Games in Israel in 1993, 1997 and 2001 and the Pan-Am Games in 1995 and 2003. The only time Mitchell's team didn't medal was in 1993.

"It's been a terrific experience," Mitchell said. "The first year you do this it's all about the competition and you gear yourself up for that. Then you realize it's a very collegial atmosphere. It's rewarding and exciting to meet people for other places. Even the team from the U.S. is spread across the country."

In 2001, the Games were in jeopardy following the bombing of a nightclub in Tel Aviv. However, about 375 of the 650 American athletes scheduled to compete attended, despite the potential danger. "We showed tremendous support for Israel during a difficult time there," Mitchell said. "We felt by going we were making a contribution." (That was the only year that wife and mother Bonnie did not make the trip.)

Especially at the masters level, which is for athletes over 40, five games in seven days is a true test to one's inner drive. Now 53, Mitchell had played at Franklin & Marshall and graduated in 1975. Now he is in commercial real estate and still has what it takes on the court, even under international rules.

"I've been fortunate that I've been able to keep going and to stay healthy," Mitchell said. "It takes about for to six months to really get ready for the games. I've been working hard and getting smarter about the game to make up for the diminution of skill."

Mitchell plays in leagues and weekend games and also went to a trainer to get ready while Ben a 2005 Scardsdale graduate, continued with his workouts from Middlebury, where he starred as a freshman last winter. Though the Rubdin boys didn't get to prepare for the Games together often, when they did they made the most of their time.

"We would go in the backyard and shoot around," Ben said. "He would shoot 50, then I would shoot 50. I'd take 10 foul shots, he'd take 10. It was never like we played one-on-one, but we'd always help each other out. In 1993, I would be the one rebounding for him when he was in Israel."

In addition to the support Mitchell and Ben have given each other, Bonnie, who competed in the Maccabi Games in 1995 in tennis, "is our biggest fan," according to Ben.

Ben was a key part of two Scarsdale basketball teams - he was also the goalie for the soccer team - and last year took his talents to Middlebury, where he was named New England Small College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year.

On the gold-winning open men's basketball team - the United States fielded two teams - in Sydney, Ben found himself in the strange position of coming off the bench, However, with the way the team dominated the opposition it was hard to tell the starters from the reserves. In the championship game against Canada, Ben scored 12 points.

"It was a good experience for me because I've started and played a lot the last three years between Scarsdale and Middlebury," Ben said. "It's good for me to get the perspective of the reserve because the role is different. Now I think I am a better player because I understand the game more and I can help out my teammates in the future."

The two open men's teams worked out in Los Angeles from June 28 - July 2 before heading to Sydney. Ben was on one team, and 2005 Edgemont grad Andrew Lefkowitz, who plays for Skidmore, was on the other. Lefkowitz's team won bronze.

Lefkowitz, a 1,000-point scorer at Edgemont, had a tough year with arm trouble which required surgery. Still, when he returns to Skidmore he hopes to make the best of his time in college for the next three years.

At Maccabis, Ben's was "one of the strongest teams" he's ever played on. There were players from schools like UNC Wilmington, Princeton, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, Brown, Villanova, Rochester and St. Mary's. Ben was the second youngest member of the team, which was chosen based on a submitted resume and each player's reputation.

"The experience was unbelievable," Ben said, "I made great friends on the team and there were Jewish athletes from all over the world. In basketball there's not a lot of Jewish big names, so to compete with and against so many talented players was an experience I'll always remember."

Middlebury started last season 7-0 and ended up 12-12. With only one senior graduating, Middlebury is looking for another breakout season and a NESCAC Championship. However, after scoring 10.3 points per game, Ben is now a marked man.

"There's definitely more pressure on men and I'm aware of that and I'm prepared for that," Ben said. "I'm not an unknown walking into the league anymore. Now they are going to have scouting reports on me, so there are some things I've been working on for next season. But I think with the team being stronger and coming together it will be easier for everyone next year."