By Vilona Trachtenberg
When Simon Honig, youngest child of Eli Honig and miriam treger, started playing rugby nearly six years ago, he never imagined he would be part of a team that traveled internationally to compete on a world stage.
That will soon change, as next year he will be competing in the sport he loves for the 2022 World Maccabiah Games in Israel, also known as the “Jewish Olympics.”
The Maccabiah Games take place every four years in Israel and is the third largest sporting event in the world – 9,000 athletes from 75 countries compete.
In 2016, Simon’s good friend, a rugby team captain, recruited him to play during his sophomore year at SUNY Geneseo. He immediately knew he found his passion.
“I’ve loved it since I started playing,” Simon said. “I know that I will play for as long as I can.”
Later, a friend showed Honig the Maccabi organization – that friend was part of the U.S. rugby team that won the gold at the last Maccabiah Games. To get to where he is now, Simon played in tournaments in Las Vegas, Nevada, and this past September, he participated in an open selection combine in Houston, Texas. For three days, Simon trained, played games and bonded with 25 other competitors from all over the country.
Out of all the participants, he was one of eight initial players selected to be on the travel team to Israel for the 2022 Maccabiah Games.
“Right when I started, I had no expectations.” Simon said. “I found a sport to play while I was at school…I was a starter on the first team, and I was playing really well. At that point I knew I wanted to make something of it. I never dreamed I would come to a moment like this. To be honest, I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. I’m sure it will soon.”
Strong work ethic is what allows the 25-year-old to also be a full-time second-year law school student while maintaining his rigorous rugby training schedule. Simon puts effort into reading and meeting scholastic deadlines, while also practicing rugby every day and learning game strategy from others to become the best athlete he can be.
To prepare for the Maccabiah Games, he has a stringent strength training schedule, and a daily nutrition program. He consistently works with coaches to elevate his progress, works with a sports dietitian, and seeks advice from teammates for motivation.
Being as busy as he is, his inspiration to keep pushing himself comes from the love of the game, his competitive drive, and his love of Judaism.
“I think it is important to compete at the World Maccabiah because I have an opportunity to represent my country, my club, and myself. I feel great pride representing the U.S. in an event that promotes Jewish pride and culture.”
Donations are needed to meet the financial commitment to travel to Israel. You can help HERE.
Vilona Trachtenberg works in distribution at New Era Cap and is a freelance writer and community advocate. She was also named a Spotlight Professional through Buffalo Niagara Partnership in 2020.