High Marks for Local Maccabi Players

Badminton player Nicole Frevold of Marblehead was a gold medal winner at the Maccabi European games in Berlin.
Isaac Ehrlich
Badminton player Nicole Frevold of Marblehead was a gold medal winner at the Maccabi European games in Berlin.

By Penny Schwartz

Published August 27, 2015, issue of August 27, 2015.

It was a golden sweep.

Boston area badminton champions, including Marblehead’s Nicole Frevold, brought home the top medals from the 2015 Maccabi European games, held in Berlin from July 27 through August 5. The six-member U.S. badminton team included four competitors from Boston, who played under the direction of coach Sasha Boyarin of Chestnut Hill.

Frevold, who earned first place in the Junior Singles division in the 2013 worldwide Macccabi games in Jerusalem, took off for Berlin hoping to win another medal, especially in the singles competition.

After playing more than 10 rounds of the lightning-speed game in two days, the Marblehead High senior returned home a triple-crown winner. She won the gold medal in the Open Mixed Doubles, with partner Alan Shekhtman (Newton); Junior Girls Doubles, with partner Jessica Cohn (Manhattan Beach, CA); and Junior Girls’ Singles (Cohn won the silver).

“I guess I exceeded my expectations,” she acknowledged modestly, though she noted that in the run up to the games she added in extra training. “I wanted to do well. I guess it paid off.” She trains regularly with Israeli-born Nikki Vered at Marblehead Youth Badminton.

Shekhtman also shined, bringing home a total of three medals, winning the Open Men’s Singles, Open Men’s Doubles (with Dan Berdichevsky, of Roxbury). Berdichevsky also took a bronze in the Open Men’s Singles.

Newton’s Isaac Ehrlich won the gold in the Junior Boys’ Singles and Doubles.

Under Boyarin’s guidance, the U.S. team was the toughest, Frevold observed, noting that Israel, which won many awards at previous Maccabi games, did not send a team this year. Boyarin, a graduate of Brandeis University, honed his skills under his dad, Ukrainian-born Kirill Boyarin, who leads the badminton program at the Maugus Club in Wellesley.

Frevold said the team felt great about its unexpected accomplishment.

As reported earlier in the Journal, Boston area athletes were part of a historic moment, marking the first time the Maccabi games were held in Germany, and in the stadium that hosted the 1936 Nazi-era Olympics, when German Jewish athletes were excluded from the games.

Jonathan Stern of Marshfield competed on the youth men’s soccer team.
Jonathan Stern of Marshfield competed on the youth men’s soccer team.

“I felt really proud walking into the stadium where the Olympics were held in 1936 when Jews were not allowed,” Frevold recalled. “There were thousands of people, it was incredible,” she said of the opening ceremonies.

Seventeen-year-old Jonathan Stern, a senior at Thayer Academy in Braintree, competed on the Youth Men’s Soccer team, playing in memory of his maternal grandfather, who brought his family to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He lives in Marshfield, but he represented the Marblehead delegation in the JCC Maccabi Games from 2011 to 2014.

While they were the only team to beat Germany, which took the gold, they lost the bronze medal to Sweden 1-0 in a tough game, he wrote in an email.

Beyond sports, the trip offered many meaningful experiences, including visiting a concentration camp and being part of a Shabbat service that is being described as the largest on record, he wrote.

“It was a privilege for me to be a part of it,” Stern wrote. In December, Stern is looking forward to representing the USA youth men’s team in the Pan-American Maccabi Games in Chile.

Anna Sylvan-Jaffe, of Concord, led Maccabi USA’s Equestrian team, the first time equestrian dressage was included in the Maccabi games. The team, which included Sylvan-Jaffe, won a bronze medal, and one of its athletes won a silver in the individual competition.

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