Gymnast, lacrosse player, runner among Maryland athletes at Maccabiah

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An accomplished gymnast, Ronni Binstock qualified for the Maccabiah at a December competition in Norman, Okla., winning a gold medal.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Binstock

Ronni Binstock has traveled from Florida to Oklahoma and as far as Santiago, Chile, competing as a gymnast.

But it will be the 16-year-old’s first time in Israel next week, when she leads a team of five other American girls in Tel Aviv in the Maccabiah’s women’s open gymnastic division.


“I’m excited to get to know the girls and compete with them,” she said.

The 20th Maccabiah will bring together 10,000 athletes from 80 countries to compete in 45 events ranging from baseball and gymnastics to karate and golf. This year, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia will send 66 athletes to compete.

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How athletes qualify for the Maccabiah varies depending on their sport. The girls Ronni will compete with were selected at a December competition in Norman, Okla. The top six qualified to compete in the Maccabiah. Ronni placed first.

A rising junior at Severna Park High School, she trains five days a week at Docksiders Gymnastics in Millersville, Md.  She has taken home medals at both state and regional competitions, as well as several gold medals at the 2015 Pan Am Maccabi Games in Santiago.


Ronni competes at level 10 of the Junior Olympic category, which is a step below “elite,” the level required to try out for the Olympics. Because of that, leading the team is less about the actual gymnastics and more about “making sure everyone is on the same page and making sure we are all ready to do what we need to do,” Ronni said.

A week before her plane departed on June 27, Ronni said nervousness had not set in.

“I don’t get nervous for competitions until I’m actually there,” she said. But she is “excited to see Israel and take in the experience.”

Ronni’s team will compete on July 10. The next day, Ellie Cowen hopes for her team to have made it to the semifinals of the women’s junior lacrosse tournament.

Ellie Cowen, left, will play offense at the Maccabiah’s women’s junior lacrosse tournament. Photo courtesy of Ellie Cowen

Like many teenagers competing in the Maccabiah, Ellie has played her sport for most of her life — since third grade. The 15-year-old from Rockville left for Netanya on June 25 to compete with 12 other girls on the U.S. team in the Maccabiah’s round-robin tournament.

Locally, Ellie has been playing on Wootton High School’s junior varsity team for two years. She found out about Maccabiah through a friend who unsuccessfully tried out for an American soccer delegation.

“I’m very excited to go and be able to meet people from around the world who have a common interest with me,” she said. And “like any tournament, I hope to win something.”

Because lacrosse is a team sport, Ellie sent a video of herself playing to the Maccabiah as a part of her application and heard back from the coach the following day, she said.

Ellie’s team will play against Israel on July 5 and then Great Britain on July 9 with the semifinals on July 10 and the finals on July 11.

Julia Reicin, right, will compete in events at the Maccabiah including 800- and 1500-meter runs. Photo courtesy of Julia Reicin

As the lacrosse tournament in Netanya winds down, Julia Reicin will be warming up to run in Jerusalem.

Reicin, a Potomac resident who recently graduated from Winston Churchill High School, left on June 26 to compete in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs as well as 400 meters with hurdles. Despite being 18, she will compete in the open division with women as old as 27, due to the Maccabiah’s age rules.

For running-based sports, applicants qualify based on their past times in their respective events.

Reicin started running as a freshman in high school and competed in the American Jewish Community Center Maccabi Games in 2012 and 2013.

“I’m super excited” to be competing in the Maccabiah, she said. “It is going to be an amazing experience to meet everyone from

all around the globe. Being able to compete for the U.S. is an amazing opportunity.”

Following the Maccabiah, Reicin will start competing for the University of Maryland, College Park in cross country and track and field.

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