Courtesy of Kent State Athletic Department
KENT, Ohio – Abby Richter was back on American soil for the first time in almost a month. Her voice, though, gave no hint of a 12-hour flight home.
When your summer vacation includes gaining invaluable coaching experience and winning a gold medal, fatigue takes a back seat.
"Coaching international competitions gives you a different perspective," Richter said during a recent phone interview. "Having the opportunity to coach players from so many different backgrounds is really important."
Richter, who is entering her eighth season as an assistant coach on Kent State's women's soccer team, returned from a 25-day trip to Israel where she guided Team USA to the gold medal in women's soccer at the 19th Maccabiah Games. Team USA defeated Israel, 6-1, in the final to cap a 6-0-1 record during competition.
The Maccabiah Games are an international Jewish athletic event that takes place every four years in Israel. This was Richter's first stint as head coach of Team USA after serving as an assistant for the club that won gold in 2009.
Richter (formerly Rabinovitz) selected an elite collection of 20 players ranging in age from 18-26 for Team USA. The original pool of 100 applicants produced 75 players who attended tryouts in Philadelphia, Pa. and Santa Monica, Calif.
Team USA practiced twice per day during training camp July 7-11 in Tel Aviv. It included a scrimmage against ASA Tel Aviv, a participant in the prestigious UEFA Women's Champions League.
The club then had an opportunity for sightseeing from July 12-17 as part of the Israel Connect program before competing July 18-29 in Jerusalem.
"It was real important to build a team atmosphere," said Richter, a standout collegiate goalkeeper during her playing days at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. "Many of the players were meeting each other for the very first time during training camp. They really came together as a team in a short amount of time and it showed on the field."
Richter, a Stow resident and Green Bay, Wis. native, will be back on the pitch quickly as Kent State opens camp Aug. 6. The Golden Flashes kick off the 2013 season Aug. 23 when they host St. Bonaventure at Zoeller Field.