Former Northeast star brings women’s ice hockey to Israel
Chad Goldberg, a hockey player at Tufts University, traveled to Israel in 2013 for the Maccabees Games, known as the “Jewish Olympics”. The event, held the year after the Summer Olympics, brings together top Jewish athletes from around the world.
Her twin sister, Chelsey Goldberg, a hockey player at Northeastern, also wanted to compete in Israel. His request to play on the USA men’s team alongside his brother was denied. There was no other path for her as women’s hockey was not part of the competition.
She decided to do something about it.
Nine years later, Goldberg is in Israel for the next 21st Maccabee as a player on the first women’s ice hockey team in the United States – a team she helped build.
“It lit a fire in me for this to happen on the women’s side,” said Goldberg, a 5-foot-6 striker who has played professionally since ending her career in the North East in 2015. “I I didn’t know how long it would take. I didn’t know what it would entail. But I was determined to bring women’s hockey to Israel.
Goldberg began her mission by contacting Devra Schorr, Co-Chair of Ice Hockey for United States, which is committed to building Jewish pride through sport. Schorr had helped restore men’s ice hockey as an event at the Maccabiah Games in 2013. She began scouting for potential sponsors and players while building support for the Maccabi World Union, which oversees the Maccabiah Games. The 2017 event brought 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries to Israel, making it the world third largest sporting event (after the Summer Olympics and the Pan American Games).
“Chelsea kept saying, ‘Why can’t I play?’ We had these discussions many times,” says Schorr, whose daughter played ice hockey at Boston University. “I said to him, ‘I’m working on it, and as soon as I get the green light, you’ll be the first one I call.’ And she was the first one I called.
The American team of 22 players and two coaches met for the first time on July 4 weekend in Philadelphia. After training four times in two days, they flew to Israel with the intention of training next week while visiting the country’s historic sites as part of the Israel Connect program sponsored by Maccabi USA.
“When you become an athlete for Maccabi USA, you’re not just there for the sport,” says Schorr. “You are there for the whole experience.”
They will compete in a three-team tournament against Canada and Israel at the Maccabiah Games, which take place from July 12-26.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” said USA head coach Justin Levin, a longtime men’s coach with Drexel University and other Philadelphia-area programs. “It’s more important than the on-ice stuff. We go out there to compete and don’t get me wrong, when we’re on that ice, we’re looking to be successful. But we understand this is a big deal and there are bigger things involved.
Goldberg, who overcame two broken legs during his college years, helped earn two Beanpots as a Husky and earned a spot on the 2012-13 Hockey East All-Star Team. She spent three of her seasons in the Northeast alongside Kendall Coyne Schofield, who went on to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in women’s college hockey in 2016.
Goldberg’s career was cut short by the fall of women’s professional hockey in North America. She participated in showcase events organized by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association while working full-time in commercial real estate and property management in his hometown of Los Angeles. She’s a dual Husky with an undergraduate degree in social services and a master’s degree in sports leadership.
“I just trained on my own,” says Goldberg, who was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. “I made it work.”
His first trip to Israel is a sporting, religious and cultural highlight for Goldberg. “I’ve never been to Israel,” she says. “I have always wanted to participate in my Birthright trip, but because I’ve been so involved in hockey at the elite level, I’ve never really had that much time. I was lucky enough to be sponsored to go – I’m very, very grateful to my sponsors for that.
Goldberg is fully aware that she is helping to advance the sport.
“I’m passionate about growing the game of women’s hockey,” she said. “I’m very, very excited and proud to represent Team USA in the first games.”
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