Hannah Magarian, of Minneapolis, was one of 16 girls from across the United States chosen for Israel’s first Under-19 women’s lacrosse team
By JOEL RIPPEL
Last June, Hannah Magarian was the goalkeeper on the Blake School’s lacrosse team, which won the girls’ state high school championship. Being a member of a championship team is usually the highlight of the year for a high school athlete.
But in December, Magarian was able to add another highlight to her already memorable year when she spent 10 days in Israel training with the Israel Under-19 women’s lacrosse team.
“The opportunity came up out of the blue [in October],” Magarian, who lives in Minneapolis, told the AJW. “Someone from my club team (Linda Christianson) heard that Israel was accepting applications from the U.S. for its first Under-19 lacrosse team. Sixteen girls from the U.S. were chosen. Most were from the East Coast. I was the only one from the Midwest.”
In addition to training and several exhibition matches, the players put on clinics and outreach programs aimed at youths. Additionally, each American athlete brought 50 pounds of equipment to donate.
“The main reason we went was to help grow the sport in Israel,” Magarian said. “We helped at schools and put on clinics and taught little kids. The games we played were awesome, but working with the children was incredible.”
On Dec. 26, Magarian and her teammates took part in the first-ever full (12 versus 12) women’s lacrosse match played in Israel, which was held in Ashkelon. The teams also played matches in Netanya, Israel, and in Poland.
In addition to the lacrosse matches, the athletes were able to go sightseeing in Warsaw and Jerusalem. They also visited the desert fortress of Masada in southern Israel.
One of the coaches who worked with Magarian in Israel was Julia Szafman, a program director for Israel Lacrosse. Szafman, a Connecticut native who played college lacrosse at Dartmouth, was a member of the Israeli team that competed in the 2013 World Cup in Canada.
“Hannah was amazing to work with and coach,” she wrote in an e-mail to the AJW. “I worked with Hannah a lot personally because she and I are both goalies. She was awesome with the kids in Ashkelon and with her teammates, and had a great attitude and vibe throughout the experience. That match in Ashkelon was really incredible for all of us in the Israel Lacrosse family, to see our young female players in the stands screaming their heads off for their new role models.”
In an e-mail to the AJW, Donna Magarian, Hannah’s mother, said that one of the most moving and memorable parts of the trip for her daughter was the outreach the team did around Israel. She forwarded a message she received in an update e-mail from Israel Lacrosse that included a quote from Hannah: “When the Hatikva played, the hairs on my back stood straight up. I had been told we were part of the something bigger than us, but it was not until that moment that I realized, with tears swelling in my eyes, that we actually were.”
Hannah Magarian said it’s still tough to describe the experience.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” she said. “It was such a great opportunity to be able to go to Israel while doing something that I love. It was my first time to Israel, and it felt like home.”
This spring, Magarian and her Blake teammates will be looking for more highlights when they compete for their fifth consecutive state championship.
(American Jewish World, 1.17.14)