Push Past Ones’ Fears – Jessica Hillier-Davidson, Maccabi Access Athlete
For most of her young life, Jessica was used to hearing no. Used to hearing that things wouldn’t be possible because of her physical disability. Her passion, dreams, and positive outlook on life were left in the shadows, until she discovered Maccabi USA and Maccabi Access – the inaugural Maccabi USA Wheelchair Mission to Israel. As someone who was accustomed to hearing no for an answer, having been given the golden yes to join the Maccabi Access team was more than a dream come true.
After the initial excitement subdued, Jessica’s nerves appeared. She was the only female and one of the youngest athletes on the team. These emotions left a pit in her stomach, fearing that she would not be able to connect to or fit in with her teammates. This is a commonality of many Maccabi USA participants; having the ability to push past ones’ fears is when one has the opportunity to experience the Maccabi Magic. Having acknowledged the trials and tribulations of her what her involvement would mean, Jessica decided that the Maccabi Access trip was going to be different.
While this task seemed daunting, Jessica was determined to push through. “Never in my life have I connected with a group of people as deeply or as rapidly as I did with these men. From the first moment I met my teammates, I felt accepted and at ease with them. Friendship with this amazing group came easily and I left Israel feeling apart of the Maccabi USA community” she said. When she had a bad game, or missed a pass, Jessica could count on her teammates to encourage her and lift her up. Jessica’s teammates quickly became her family; having developed relationships that went far beyond the competition on the basketball court. Not only did she form strong bonds with her American teammates, but another cherished part of this trip were the relationships that she built with other wheelchair basketball athletes from Israel.
“Even though we come from different backgrounds and speak different languages, our connection as Jews and disabled athletes united us as one. This was a trip filled with extraordinary friends, amazing sights, and many life changing moments. Maccabi Access allowed me to overcome my fears, represent my country, and discover a family beyond my immediate one.”