Our final day was a busy travel day. Mind you, we didn’t travel very far yet spent most of the day waiting (you remember, “hurry up and wait” … well, it strikes again).
First, we waited at Kibbutz Shefayim to board buses to Kfar Maccabiah. Then we waited around the Kfar for lunch to begin but were rushed into our final team meeting (the big meeting where the banner and flag bearers are announced … it’s kinda a big deal!) Olympic swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale was named the flag bearer and he gave a few brief remarks about how meaningful the experience and the honor were to him. The Maccabiah really does make an indelible mark on so many people for some many reasons. Whether you are an Olympian or your sport has yet to make the Olympic program, these Games are truly life-defining moments.
Pretty much upon arrival, we were informed that we were no longer staying in Bat Yam but would be staying at Kfar Maccabiah during competition (which was changed within 24 hours to the Tal Hotel in Tel Aviv … I feared this would be an endless string of accommodation changes that, thankfully, didn’t materialize). But with this change, a bus was not arranged to take us from Kfar Maccabiah to the Tal Hotel (we are the only U.S. athletes staying there). So we waited, and spoke to a few accommodations managers and our team manager, who were all extremely apologetic and helpful. We spoke to a few Kfar staff members who did what they could to help. But at this point, arrangements were being coordinated through Maccabi World Union, not Maccabi USA, so it was in another set of hands. Though a bus finally did arrive and take us “home,” we did receive entertainment in the form of:
- 2 coaches having a verbal tiff in the parking lot – thankfully it didn’t come to fisticuffs but for a while, we weren’t sure how it would end. (True, the Games are about competition and friendship and connecting with Israel, but even sometimes the best of us lose our cool.)
- A coach who had also been waiting with his team for a bus to arrive couldn’t account for all his athletes; he realized some of them were inside the lobby of Kfar Maccabiah when they should have been ready and waiting to get on the bus. When he spotted them, he yelled a few expletives through his teeth and they ran on-the-double to that bus. We’ve adopted that phrase as well, but mostly for a good laugh!
Finally, we get to the Tal Hotel, we see our fellow bowlers, and it’s as if we’ve never been apart. In most cases, years have gone by but the family is now together (most of us, along with some new additions … we are a loving bunch and graciously welcome newcomers to the group). A little dinner together and a stroll out to the Tel Aviv Port (which is fantastic any night of the week … if you are in Israel, definitely check it out), ending with a beer with friends at a beach-side bar. Not a bad way to end our first day back together.