From Philadelphia Inquirer: Moorestown Friends siblings picked for Maccabiah Games

From Philadelphia Inquirer, April 8, 2017
By Phil Anastasia

Charlotte Stern never had to travel beyond the basketball court in her driveway to find a competitive game.

Jack Stern never had to look past the bedroom down the hall to find a worthy foe.

What started as a sibling rivalry has propelled the Voorhees residents and Moorestown Friends School basketball stars on what promises to be the journey of their young lifetimes.

Charlotte Stern and Jack Stern both have been selected to represent the Team USA junior basketball teams at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel this summer.

“This is by far the biggest honor I’ve ever had in my life,” Jack Stern said. “And to go with my sister, it makes it that much more special.”

Jack Stern, a sophomore at Moorestown Friends, has been chosen to the play for the Team USA’s youth under-16 squad at the Maccabiah Games, an Olympics-style event that is held every four years in various locations in Israel.

Charlotte Stern, a junior who led the Moorestown Friends girls’ basketball team to the best record in program history this past season, has been chosen to play for Team USA’s junior under-18 squad at the international competition, which is expected to include 10,000 athletes from 80 countries.

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” Charlotte Stern said of playing in the Maccabiah Games. “But for it to actually happen and for it to happen for my brother at the same time, it’s hard to believe.

“For one of us to make it would have been cool. For both of us, it’s extra special.”

Charlotte Stern, who is 6-foot, averaged 18.7 points in leading Moorestown Friends to a 21-5 record, the program’s first postseason tournament victory in 20 years and the No. 9 spot in the Inquirer’s final Top 10 rankings for South Jersey girls’ basketball teams.

Last summer, Charlotte Stern sparked a team based at the Kaiserman Jewish Community Center in Philadelphia to the JCC Maccabiah Games title.

Charlotte Stern made the Team USA under-18 team roster after a tryout in September.

But it took a couple of months for the older Stern sibling to hear the good news.

Jack Stern, a 6-foot-6 athlete who also played for a team out of Philadelphia that won the JCC Maccabiah Games last summer, made the under-16 roster after a tryout in September – and got the word a few days later.

“Jack heard in like three days,” Charlotte Stern said. “I was like, ‘That’s great, Jack made it. But how long do I have to wait to find out?’ ”

Charlotte Stern said it was “weeks” before she was notified she would be accompanying her brother to Israel to represent the U.S.

“The great thing is that we’re both going there to compete,” said Jack Stern, who averaged 13 points and eight rebounds last season for Moorestown Friends. “It’s not like one of us will be playing and the other watching. We’re both going there to compete.”

The siblings will depart June 23 and spend close to a month in Israel, working out with their new team, participating in service projects related to the event, sight-seeing, and competiting with athletes from around the world.

“A lot of people in my family have been to Israel and I always wanted to go,” Charlotte Stern said. “To be going under these circumstances, it’s so exciting.”

Although they’ve both outgrown the driveway games, the siblings both point to those competitions as the foundation for their success and the launching pad for their world travels.

A few years back, when Jack Stern finally grew taller than his older sister and started to take full advantage of his physical superiority, the daily one-on-one games got so intense that their parents had to intervene.

“I think it’s fair to say that a referee was definitely needed on several occasions,” said Andrew Stern, the siblings’ father. “It seemed like the right time to cut off those sort of battles. . . . Like puppies from the same litter, they can fight like crazy but always have love and support for each other against all challenges and all comers. They are competitors but also each other’s biggest fans.”