Locals prepare for squash tourney

As far as summer vacations go, this will certainly be a memorable one for the Scherman family of La Jolla.

Greg Scherman, 48, and his daughter Rachel, 14, will travel to Israel next month to play squash in the 18th Maccabiah Games, often referred to as the Jewish Olympics.

“Everyone we’ve spoken to has told us that this is just a life-changing event,” Greg Scherman said. “We have not been to Israel before. It will really be a special, special trip.”

The Maccabiah Games will be contested July 12-23, and with more than 7,000 athletes expected from 60 countries, the games represent the third largest sporting event in the world, behind the Olympics and the Pan-American Games. They are held every four years.

Goodwill tour

Rachel will depart for Israel on July 2 for a training and goodwill tour prior to the games. A freshman next year at La Jolla High School, she will compete in the junior girls’ division.

Greg Scherman will depart July 9 and will compete in the men’s 45-49 division.

Greg Scherman owns a club called San Diego Squash in Sorrento Mesa and has been playing squash for 23 years. He was a competitive cyclist as a student at UCSD, but was forced to give the sport up temporarily when he spent a year in London and the regularly bad weather made it difficult to ride consistently. A friend suggested he take up the indoor sport of squash, and he soon became hooked.

In top 10

He has participated in national championships throughout the U.S., but has never traveled abroad to compete. Ranked in the top 10 nationally for his age group, he was recently asked to play in the Maccabiah Games by an administrator at Maccabi USA, the U.S. governing body, and jumped at the chance.

Rachel has played for three years and got into the Maccabiah Games through an extensive qualifying process.

She started playing with her dad at the squash club and took to it quickly. She had played soccer and competed in karate previously, but now focuses most of her athletic attention on squash.

‘Thrilled, honored’

“I’m really excited (about the games),” she said. “I just think it’s an honor to be able to go and compete. I’m thrilled.”

“I think it will be an eye-opening experience.”

The Schermans are seeking donations to Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel, and are required to raise $6,000 to help athletes who wouldn’t otherwise be able to travel to Israel for the Games. Those interested can donate by visiting

and entering Greg Scherman’s name.

Greg Scherman said he’s looking forward to the trip, both for the competitive aspect and for the experience itself.

“You feel like you’re kind of an ambassador, particularly in that uniform, as someone who’s representing the United States of America,” he said.