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Let The Games Begin

Let The Games BeginDespite recent violence in Israel, Tufts' Janice Savitz hopes to coach the U.S. Basketball Team to gold in the 2001 Maccabiah Games. Jerusalem.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.19.01] Second on Tufts' all-time wins list, coach Janice Savitz has proven she has the skills needed to rack up victories on the basketball court. Following two of her best seasons at Tufts, Savitz is hoping to continue her record of success on an international level as head coach of the U.S. Women's Basketball Team at the 2001 Maccabiah Games.

The third-largest international sporting even in the world, the 2001 Games feature 3,000 athletes from nearly 50 countries across the globe.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for me not only as a coach, but as a person," Savitz said. "I look forward to the valuable life experience that will come from being part of the whole event."

The U.S. delegation of athletes is second only to Israel's team in size and is scheduled to compete in 23 different sports before the games conclude on Monday, July 23.

The Tufts coach was selected for the honor in May 2000, as she came off one of her best seasons with the Tufts basketball team. The 1999-2000 Jumbos posted a 15-8 record -- the most wins by the team since 1992.

Impressed with her record at Tufts, U.S. officials think Savitz could bring home a gold medal.

"Her success at Tufts and experience as a head coach as well as her style and personality [made Savitz the best choice for head coach]," said Sherry Levin, the co-chairperson for the 2001 Games. "We are confident that she will mold [the team] into a cohesive group to bring home the gold medal."

But political tensions in the Middle East have posed some unexpected challenges for the team.

Last Sunday, just one day before the opening ceremonies, a bomb exploded less than a half mile from the site of the games. The incident was the latest in a string of violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the region.

Fearing their safety, the Hartford Courant reported that athletes from around the world, including five from Savitz's team, dropped out of the games.

But one of Savitz's players told the newspaper that the U.S. team still plans to win gold.

"[Savitz] worked us hard," Leslie Carlson told the Courant. "At this point there are a bunch of girls that have been sticking with it and we are committed... I want to win the gold."

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