WALTHAM, Mass. – Bentley University rising senior Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS), a two-time Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division II All-America and two-time Capital One Academic All-America, will be headed to Israel next month to participate in the 19th annual Maccabiah Games as a member of United States women's basketball team.
Battista and her Team USA teammates will be participating in training camp, practice and a tour program from July 6-17, with the opening ceremonies for the games scheduled for July 18. Women's open basketball will get underway July 19, the championship game is 10 days later, and the closing ceremonies for Maccabiah 2013 are July 30.
"I am excited to explore a new culture through the sport that I love," said Battista. "It will give me the chance not only to see a beautiful country, but also will allow me to meet athletes from all around the world and make new friendships. I am grateful to have been chosen to join a team of talented players from all across the country to share this experience with. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I cannot wait to represent the United States on this international stage," continued the versatile six-foot forward.
Bentley coach Barbara Stevens, who had the opportunity to coach in Israel in 1994 with the USA Select Team, said "Lauren's selection to the US women's basketball team that will compete in the World Maccabiah Games this July is a tremendous honor for her. The chance to compete against international competition is a fantastic opportunity that will prove to be extremely beneficial as she prepares for her senior season at Bentley."
Battista has been a standout on the court and in the classroom during her first three years at Bentley. She's a two-time Northeast-10 Sport Excellence Scholar-Athlete award winner and has been a fixture on the All-Northeast-10 team, earning Player of the Year honors in the conference in 2012.
Number ten on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,504 points, the unselfish Battista ranks in the top ten in program history in nine different statistical categories, including field goal percentage (.530, seventh) and free throw percentage (.804, fifth). In 100 career games, she's averaged 15.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals while leading the Falcons to an amazing 89-11 record with three NE-10 regular season championships, three NE-10 playoff titles and two trips to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
As a junior, Battista put up numbers nearly identical to her career marks while leading the Falcons to an outstanding 30-2 season.
"We will have 12 very talented players representing the USA Open Women's Basketball team and our expectations are to reclaim the gold medal we won in 2005," said Jamie Shadian of Northern Arizona University, the team's coach. "What I hope the players accomplish off the court is to connect to their Jewish culture and heritage and that is as important as our on-court success."
"After a week of training the team will participate in the ISRAEL CONNECT cultural and educational program prior to the Games commencing," Shadian continued. "We will have guided tours every day after practice that will allow us to explore the country. Regardless of their prior experiences, I hope each player will walk away from the Games with a new understanding, respect and love for Israel.
Among Battista's teammates on Team USA will be Jacqueline Kalin, a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year at Northern Iowa; two-time Ivy League scoring champion Alyssa Brown of Penn; Sophie Bikofsky, who plays for Brown University; and two other Northeast-10 players, Chloe Rothman of Merrimack and Yuri Sher of Pace.
Bentley will also be represented in the Maccabiah Games by two alumni who'll be playing for the USA Rugby Team, Ilya Wortman '08 and Seth Cohen '07. Wortman, who lives in South Boston after attending high school in Canton, played four years of varsity football for the Falcons, and Cohen, a veteran of the 2009 Maccabiah Games, was a member of the Bentley club rugby team. He's a Connecticut native who now lives in New York City.