Klebanow Looks Forward to National Team Experience
Typically, she is looking for players to come to Muncie and play for the Cardinals. But these past couple weeks have been slightly different.
Klebanow ventured last weekend to Philadelphia, Pa., and is spending this weekend in Santa Monica, Calif., identifying players for the United States Jewish girls' junior national team. Klebanow is member of the coaching staff that is selecting a team, through tryouts at those locations, to represent the United States this summer at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel.
The Maccabiah Games are held every four years with countries from around the world sending teams of Jewish athletes to compete in a wide array of sports, ranging from cricket and bowling to basketball and gymnastics.
The inaugural games were contested in 1932, and they have been held every four years since 1953.The most recent games in 2009 featured 12,000 athletes from 54 countries competing in 31 sports over junior, open and masters divisions.
"It's sort of a Jewish Olympics," Klebanow said. "I will be representing the soccer side, and we will go and compete to try to win a gold medal for the United States. It is run exactly like the Olympics with an opening and closing ceremony and games of all different sorts."
The unique opportunity first presented itself when Ball State head coach Craig Roberts received an e-mail asking for help in identifying potential players for the team. Roberts and Klebanow reached out to Maccabi USA program director Ami Monson to see if there might be a coaching opportunity available.
"(Monson) said that he would love for me to become a coach with the Maccabiah program," Klebanow said, "and he felt a position that would be a good fit was as an assistant coach with the junior program, which is high school aged girls.
"I think they looked at my past experiences as a coach and my connection with Ball State and believed that could benefit the team for the Maccabiah Games."
Her opportunity with the Maccabiah Games will add to an array of experiences that is already wide-ranging for someone who graduated from Indiana University in 2009. Klebanow also has college coaching stops as an assistant at Wagner and USC Upstate, even serving a short stint as USC Upstate's interim head coach.
She completed her first season with the Ball State program last fall, helping the Cardinals to an overall record of 8-7-5 and their best Mid-American Conference record in five years at 5-3-3.
The Cleveland, Ohio, native will serve on the staff for the Maccabiah Games under head coach Aaron Benditson, who coaches the women's program at Santa Monica College.
Klebanow and the team will head to Israel in early July to practice for a couple weeks before the games begin. In total, they will spend about a month in the country before returning home near the beginning of August, when Ball State will begin preparations for its 2013 season.
"We will get a chance to spend some time touring the country as a group, bonding us and uniting us," said Klebanow, who will be making her second trip to Israel. "I am excited for the environment we will have over there. I am looking forward to trying to bring home the gold for the United States."
But there is plenty of work to do between now and then, starting with the current team-selection process that is continuing this weekend out in Santa Monica.
"I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be associated with the Maccabiah program," Klebanow said. "It has been around for many years and is a great foundation for athletes to be able to represent their own culture, as well as their nation.
"I am excited to be able to work with young athletes who want to represent the United States in an international environment and be able to further their soccer development, as well."