Battista chosen for Maccabiah team
In recognition of her magnificent senior season at Oliver Ames High in 2010, Lauren Battista was honored as an all-scholastic by the B’nai B’rith Sports Lodge of New England at its annual breakfast. The guest speaker was Andy Yosinoff , the longtime women’s basketball coach at Emmanuel College.
Yosinoff, who coached the US Open Women’s team to its first gold medal at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, talked about that experience with Battista and her parents at the event.
That chance meeting turned into opportunity for Battista: The All-American forward at Bentley University has been selected to play for the US Open basketball squad at this month’s 19th Maccabiah Games after tryouts last summer on Long Island.
Battista and her mother, Carol , who grew up in Milton, are Jewish, which made the versatile 6-foot forward eligible for the games. Battista’s father, Tony, a Newton native, met his wife when they were students at Bentley.
Yosinoff talked to Bentley women’s coach Barbara Stevens, and recommended Battista to US Women’s Open coach Jamie Shadian last year. Battista impressed the coaching staff and selection committee at the first tryout, according to Stevens.
“Our whole family is very excited. It’s pretty surreal for me to represent my country and to learn more about my Jewish heritage through a sport that I love and to be away for nearly a month,’’ said Battista, who helped lead Bentley to a 30-2 record last season and to the NCAA Division 2 East Regional final.
“I just received my USA apparel and gear last weekend and my parents will be joining me [in Israel] when the games start.’’
Battista and her teammates are scheduled to leave Saturday.
Upon arrival they will start training camp and practices and participate in the Israel Connect educational and cultural program that includes guided tours of cultural, religious, and historic sites.
Opening ceremonies are July 18, women’s basketball competition starts the next day, and closing ceremonies are scheduled for July 30.
“Regardless of their prior experiences, I hope each player will walk away from the games with a new understanding, respect, and love for Israel,’’ said Shadian, head women’s coach at Northern Arizona University.
Battista will be joined on the 12-member team by two other players from Massachusetts — former Newton South High stars Sophie Bikofsy (Brown University) and Chloe Rothman (Merrimack). She competes against Rothman and another Maccabiah Games teammate, Yuri Sher (Pace University) in the Northeast-10 Conference.
Last season, Battista averaged 14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. She is a two-time Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division 2 All-America and Capital One Academic All-America selection.
She ranks 10th on Bentley’s career scoring list (1,504 points) and in the top 10 in nine other statistical categories. In her three seasons at the Waltham school, Bentley has an 89-11 record, has won three conference regular season and tournament championships, and has twice advanced to the NCAA Division 2 Elite Eight.
Battista has been working out this summer at pickup games with Rothman at Bentley and Merrimack.
“We’ll guard one another at times, which has helped us learn more about our games, even though she’s a point guard and I’m a forward,’’ said Battista, who powered Oliver Ames to the Division 2 state title her senior year, when she was the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
“I’m not sure exactly what to expect. My family has never been to Israel and that alone is exciting,’’ added Battista, who is working this summer at Evolution Performance in Easton.
Stevens shared her experience with Battista about a trip in 1994 when she was assistant coach of a USA select Olympic developmental team that toured Israel and France.
“Lauren was concerned about getting an internship this summer, but I told her not to be concerned because she’s a tremendous student and that this would be a special opportunity to touch base with her culture and heritage,’’ said Stevens, who wasn’t aware Battista was Jewish while recruiting her.
“One day after she came here she mentioned going to the B’nai B’rith event and I asked her who in her family was Jewish and that’s when I knew, so I hope her trip and time over there will be fulfilling for her on many levels.’’
Bentley will also be represented in the Maccabiah Games by Ilya Wortman, a graduate of Canton High. A 2008 Bentley grad, he played four years of football for the Falcons and now resides in South Boston.
Here and there
After guiding the girls’ volleyball team at Dedham High to its first state tournament in 15 years last fall, Stephanie Adams is on the move to Archbishop Williams to take over a program that is the defending Division 3 South sectional champ. Adams, a physical education teacher at the Dedham Middle School, was a four-year player at Whitman-Hanson Regional and played collegiately at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “I love the game of volleyball, coaching and playing the sport,” said Adams. “I’d like to see the girls doing offseason conditioning to get them ready for tryouts and the season.” The Archies (16-7) lost to eventual state champion Frontier Regional, 3-0, in the state semifinals. . . . Melanie Vaux Scalli is the new director of the group exercise and mind and body program at the Weymouth Club, which is undergoing a major renovation. The focal point is a state-of-the-art mind and body center. A former three-sport athlete at Danvers High, Vaux Scalli was most recently the district group manager at the Boston Sports Club.Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.