Israel hasn’t had a team sport qualify for the Olympics since 1968, but some Arizona women are determined to end the 50-year drought.
Jamie Morgan and Leah White have shared a dream since they played softball together at Horizon High School in Scottsdale: playing softball in the Olympics. Now that dream is closer than ever for the Phoenix-raised women. Morgan and White are members of the Israeli National Softball Team, which goes to the European World Championships this summer with the hope of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.
There are other Arizonans on the Israeli softball team as well. The team’s head coach, Stacy Iveson, is the director of operations for the University of Arizona, who’ll be assisted by two Wildcat alumni, Lisa Bernstein and Debby Day. Of the Israeli team’s 12 players and three coaches, seven have Arizona ties. To play for Team Israel one must have a Jewish parent or grandparent and must travel to Israel for dual citizenship.
The journey hasn’t been without its setbacks. The softball team was originally told that a single altruistic individual would pay travel costs but the commitment fell through, and the women are now scrambling to come up with funds. Each team member needs roughly $10,000 to make it all the way to Holland. Some of the women are paying their own way, or have asked family members for help.
Team Israel heads to Poland on June 30 for the first step in a week-long series of games to qualify. If they finish in the top 6 they will make their way to Holland in July, and if they qualify there, the team will head to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Go to redmatmedia.com/israelisoftballorg for more information. JN