Detroit athlete Alex Lustig disappointed, but determined to compete in 2022.
Alex Lustig’s dream of participating in the JCC Maccabi Games this summer as Detroit’s lone representative was dashed at the 11th hour.
The quickly organized JCC Maccabi Texas Regional Games in San Antonio were canceled July 28, less than two weeks before the Aug. 8 opening ceremony, because of a surge in COVID-19 infections in Texas.
The JCC Association of North America, along with Barshop JCC of San Antonio, Evelyn Robinson JCC of Houston, Shalom Austin and Aaron Family JCC of Dallas, made the cancellation announcement, citing concerns about the “health and well-being of our participants and communities.”
Lustig, 14, hoped to compete in golf for Detroit in San Antonio after working hard on his game at Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield.
He also was looking forward to taking part in other Maccabi Games activities like JCC Cares and Hang Time social and cultural events.
Lustig played hockey for Detroit in the 2019 Maccabi Games held in Detroit, so he knew what would be taking place in Texas, albeit on a much smaller scale than in Detroit.
“It’s disappointing not to be able to go to the Maccabi Games in Texas, but there’s nothing you can do. Safety is safety. I’m excited to go to the Maccabi Games next year. I’m hoping they’ll be held,” he said.
The incoming Birmingham Groves High School freshman from West Bloomfield didn’t know when he made those comments that a Maccabi Games is planned for 2022 after cancellations in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
He has two years of Maccabi Games eligibility remaining.
Next year’s Maccabi Games will be held July 31 through Aug. 5, in San Diego. The announcement was made July 31 by the host Lawrence Family JCC of San Diego.
San Diego Addition
A new Maccabi Games wrinkle is planned for southern California.
The San Diego Games will be a pilot for JCC Maccabi Access, which will provide Jewish teens with cognitive and developmental disabilities with a Maccabi Games experience.
“I’m so excited,” longtime Detroit Maccabi delegation head Karen Gordon said about the announcement of the return of the Maccabi Games in the year of the event’s 40th anniversary.
More than 100,000 Jewish teens have participated in the Maccabi Games over the past four decades.
After celebrating the Maccabi Games’ return in 2022, Gordon quickly pivoted to this year’s Texas Regional Games and the last-minute decision to call them off.
“It was the right call to cancel them, especially with kids coming from out of town. It was just too risky,” she said.
Golf was one of six sports on the docket for the Texas Regional Games, joining boys basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer, tennis and swimming. There also was going to be a Star Reporter opportunity.
About 100 teen athletes from San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Denver and St. Louis would have competed during the three-day, two-night event that would have concluded Aug. 10.
JCC Cares involved the teens bringing school supplies to San Antonio that would have been donated to Communities in Schools San Antonio and the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio, organizations that give backpacks and school supplies to needy youngsters.
Mark Berke was Lustig’s coach in 2019 on one of two Detroit Maccabi hockey teams. Even though that was two years ago, Berke remembers Lustig well.
“We had a lot of young players. Alex was easily the smallest kid on our team, but he played like a huge kid,” Berke said.
“He played with such heart and passion. That whole team was a pleasure to coach. We had a lot of fun. The kids and parents were great.”
Lustig still went to Texas last week. He visited his grandparents, Bob and Beth Noe, who live in Austin, about two hours from San Antonio. Dov and Allison Lustig are Alex’s parents.
Anyone interested in participating in the 2022 Maccabi Games as a coach, athlete or artist from Detroit should send an email to Gordon at email@example.com.