CLEVELAND – Case Western Reserve University women's soccer standout Leah Levey (Columbus, Ohio/Bexley) will get a jumpstart on her senior season when she competes in the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel from July 17-30.
The Maccabiah Games are quadrennial Jewish Olympics, held in Israel the year following the Olympic Games. Every four years, the best Jewish athletes from throughout the world compete in Open, Masters, Juniors and Disabled competitions.
Levey will compete for the United States Soccer Team in the open division after qualifying this past winter.
"I've always known about the Maccabiah Games, my parents have been involved, and I just decided to try out this year," said Levey. "I knew that this could be a great experience, and everything just seemed to fall into place with this summer being ideal for me to compete."
Entering her senior season with 29 career points on 11 goals and seven assists in a Spartan uniform, Levey has been a standout both on the pitch and in the classroom. She is a three-time All-University Athletic Association selection, a National Soccer Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region pick, and a two-time Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association Division III Academic All-Ohio First Team honoree.
Of the 20 players currently listed on the USA Women's Soccer Team for the 19th Maccabiah Games, only two, including Levey, represent NCAA Division III schools. Most of the players hail from major Division I programs such as the University of Texas, Stanford University, Duke University and the University of Illinois.
"Showing up at the tryout at U. Penn (University of Pennsylvania) and seeing all of the DI logos on shirts was intimidating," noted Levey. "I didn't expect the tryout to be that competitive until I saw the caliber of player I was up against there. I don't know how much playing time I'll actually get, but it is just such an honor to compete at the same level, and I know the experience will make me better as a player."
Levey departs for Israel on July 6 and will begin training camp with two-a-days the following day. The second week will consist of morning training and afternoon travel as the team gets set for its opening game on July 17.
"I'm really excited to go and to be able to connect with so many people from different parts of the world," said Levey. "I'm always up for competition, and this will be the highest level of soccer I've ever experienced."
The Spartan forward will return to the USA on August 1, and she fully expects the Maccabiah experience to take her game to the next level as Case begins its preseason practice just a few weeks later.
"I think this experience is really going to set me up nicely for my senior year," noted the Columbus-native. "I did something similar before my senior year at Bexley, playing at Division I college camps, and I had my best year. I'm hoping it's a parallel this year, and I can contribute to my team even more."
Levey came to Case Western Reserve in 2010 after being named the Ohio State Most Valuable Player with 27 goals as a high school senior. Her performance led the Bexley Lions to the 2009 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II State Championship.
In addition to starring for the Spartans and as a nutrition major, she has been heavily involved with the international non-profit organization, Likoni Community Football League.
Leah's older sister, Deena, graduated this past December as one of the top academic and athletically-accomplished women's soccer players in school history.