The last — and only — time Jaclyn Kates of Colts Neck visited Israel was eight years ago, when she went to see her brother Mitchell win top honors in the 17th Maccabiah Games as a member of the Junior Boys’ basketball team.
This year she will be the second from her family who are members of the Monmouth County basketball contingent going for the gold, as a member of Team USA in the Open Women’s basketball division at the 19th games, set to begin July 18.
Joining her on the women’s squad are two other local players — Annette Snow of Manalapan and Arron Zimmerman of Wayside.
Sometimes playing on the same side and sometimes as opponents here in the States, the trio has amassed a slew of basketball accomplishments and honors.
Kates, the daughter of Shari and Eric Kates, helped lead her high school team, the Lady Lancers of St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, to four state championships. “One of the biggest highlights of my basketball career was winning the Tournament of Champions and finishing number one in New Jersey,” she told NJJN.
When the siblings’ basketball careers made it too difficult for them to continue the religious school schedule at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, where the family belonged, they studied with a private tutor for their bar and bat mitzva training.
Today, at 20, she is a student with a 3.5 grade point average at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She credits basketball with teaching her that “self-motivation and taking responsibility for your own actions are ultimately what will make you successful on the court and in life.”
Zimmerman, Kates’ teammate for seven years in AAU competition and four years at SJV, is a veteran of the Maccabiah tournament, having played in 2009 in the Junior division. During that visit, Zimmerman, a member of Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst, said she was thrilled to connect with Jewish athletes from all over the world. Another lasting memory, she told NJJN, was when she had a second bat mitzva service at the Kotel in Jerusalem.
Currently a sophomore with an athletic scholarship at American University, the 20-year-old is the daughter of Bonnie and Gary Zimmerman.
Snow made the Maccabiah basketball team despite being injured for much of her freshman year at Lafayette College. The 19-year-old said she began playing basketball in the fourth grade and her best position is guard, “but I am also very good at forward.”
Her high school career included two seasons at Freehold Township and two at Blair Academy in Blairstown, which she described as “a college prep school highly regarded for sports.” At Blair, Snow was team captain and led the school to a 45-5 record and two state titles. Overall, she tallied 1,043 points in her four years of high school.
Snow’s parents, both born in Israel, are David and Dorit Snow; the family attends Congregation Sons of Israel in Manalapan.
Returning athlete Mitchell Kates is a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is active in the campus Hillel and where he came in third in both the iOS Mobile Web Competition and third in the Pokerbots Competition. “I was also an Academic All-American in basketball this year,” he said.
Mitchell said that in order to earn a spot on the Open Men’s division basketball team, he had to participate in tryouts with well over 100 candidates.