An Athlete’s Journey – Jason Feinberg

What was it like meeting athletes for the first time?

The first people we met were from Turkey at the airport and they were the friendliest people ever. In terms of teammates, our squash team was 2 people, me and Sam Matlick. To be completely honest, it was a bit awkward at first, but we hung out a lot during the competition days. My family was there as well, so Sam joined us which allowed us to form a stronger bond. When we weren’t competing together, we were always cheering each other on. Though our competition was short, we continued to play together even after the competition ended. Competing abroad in Budapest was unlike anything I have ever experienced before, it was amazing. Since our team was so small, we also met the field hockey and fencing teams. It was great to form relationships with other members of the USA delegation – I made friends I know will last long beyond these Games.

What was it like to play against Sam Matlick?

It was great to play against Sam. He was ranked higher than me and ultimately, he won, but it was all in good sport and we supported each other throughout the match. The good sportsmanship lasted throughout our competitions as cheered each other on when the respective player was competing.

Why did you choose to participate as a member of Maccabi USA?

Before college, I participated in Junior US Squash competitions and now in college I am one of the captains of the Squash team at UC Berkeley, but I have never competed internationally in squash before. So, I thought, why not? This international competition was different than most because at the end of the day, we all had a strong connection in all being Jewish. Additionally, we traveled together which never happens in other competitions. Through the European Maccabi Games, I now have connections with people all over the world.

What were the best moments/highlights of the Games?

The first one was during the squash Semi-Finals when I lost to Nadav, an Open squash player from Germany, since I was the underdog there. It was an incredibly hard competition, but everyone was cheering me on; not only my family, but there were also other USA delegation members and athletes from other countries. I could hear them smacking on the glass rooting for me which was really motivating.

The second moment was later that evening, the local squash Masters athlete from Hungary invited all the athletes to his restaurant. We sat there, different teams from different countries, but bonded together as one. We had a connection both on and off the court, something that was incredible to see.