Athlete Overcomes Adversity with Determination
By Andrew Schulman
Special to BSW
Two years ago, Tyler Jacobs of Nashville was getting ready to drive from his summer camp in Northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee, where he was set to compete in the JCC Maccabi Games, the national Olympics-style competition for Jewish youth.
Then heartbreak struck. Well, actually, something broke – his leg – during a water skiing accident just three days before the opening ceremonies. It was to have been his last time competing in the Maccabi Games – he was about to reach the age limit of 16 – and Jacobs was devastated at losing the chance to help his team win the gold in flag football that had them a few years earlier when they had to settle for the silver.
But Jacobs is getting another shot to compete, this time in an even bigger Jewish sports arena. He has been chosen as a member of the U.S. track team that will take part in the 20th quadrennial Maccabiah Games next year in Israel.
“This is such a special experience,” Jacobs said. “It’s my first time in Israel so that’s exciting.”
Jacobs, now an 18-year-old senior at University School of Nashville, will compete in the long jump and the 100 meter dash.
He will join more than 75,000 Jewish athletes from 75 countries will be competing in 42 sports next July. Among them is at least one other Nashville area resident, 25-year-old Maren Angus of Henderson, who will be playing first base on the U.S. women’s softball team.
For Jacobs, whose family are members of The Temple, it has been a long road back from the devastating leg injury that sidelined him two years ago.
Sitting in wheelchair and wearing a big smile, he was at the airport to greet his teammates two years ago when they returned from Milwaukee. Then he spent months in rehab, determined to get back into competition.
His patience and determination paid off. This year Jacobs was a member of USN’s city champion track team. He placed third in the state in his division in the long jump and also ran the anchor leg the school’s 4x100 relay team, which holds the Nashville record in that event
Being familiar with the international Maccabiah Games through his participation in the JCC national sports competition, Tyler applied to be part of the U.S. track team. He waited six months for an answer after the committee extended the application process to cast a larger web for other applicants. He received the letter last month welcoming his to the team.
“Just being able to compete is great because a year ago I wasn’t sure I would be able to walk again much less compete in track,” Jacobs said.