July 7, 2013
For the second consecutive World Maccabiah Games, Florida Atlantic University track and field and cross country head coach Alex Smolka will lead the United States contingent to Israel.
Smolka was the head track coach for the 2009 U.S. team that brought home 24 medals, five of which were gold.
"As a coach, it is a great experience and honor to have a chance to work with track and field athletes from all over the country. Anytime I have the opportunity to represent not only Florida Atlantic but the country at an international event is extremely gratifying."
This is the fourth time Smolka has been chosen to appear at the Maccabiah Games. Twice before, he was named as a competitor, in 1993 as a triathlon alternate and again in 2001 as a triathlete, however that event was canceled.
The Games are promoted as more than just an international competition. "It's track and field surrounded by getting to know the history and culture of Israel and of the Middle East, and of your own heritage," he said. "That's what's so exciting about the whole idea of the Maccabiah Games.
Smolka will have some familiar faces from FAU on the United States' team. Three alumni including Jordan Zwick, Ryan Davis and Eric Kessler will compete in the Games. Zwick graduated from Florida Atlantic in 2007 and served as a volunteer assistant to Smolka in 2009 before accepting a job with New Balance.
Davis and Kessler both graduated from FAU in spring 2013. Davis currently holds the school record for the 10,000 meter (32:51.46) which he set in March during outdoor track and field season. Kessler set the third best time in school history for the men's 10K at the 2012 NCAA South Regional Meet.
Florida Atlantic's Adam Simon will also compete at the 2013 Games before returning to Smolka's team this fall for his senior year.
The World Maccabiah Games is held every four years in Israel and is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. It is the third largest international sporting competition, with more than 7,000 athletes from more than 60 countries expected to participate. The 19th edition of the Games will take place July 17-30, 2013. For more information, visit the website at www.maccabiusa.com.