A trio of Baltimore area lacrosse players – Maisie Burgunder, Molly Millman and Claire Simonds — recently enjoyed the chance to represent Israel while playing the sport they love.
The youngsters played in different age groups for Team Israel while attending the World Lacrosse Championship in Peterborough, Ontario.
Molly, 13, is an eighth grade student at Garrison Forest School who played for the under-15 and under-18 teams. Maisie, 14, played with Molly on the under-15 team that won a bronze medal at the 10-day tournament.
Simonds, 18, is a McDonogh School senior who was on the under-19 team that did not win a medal. She will play lacrosse at Denison University in Ohio after graduating from McDonogh in 2020.
The experience of playing on Team Israel helped the girls gain knowledge on and off the field. They got the chance to play against other teams from all around the world, all while connecting with their Judaism in many ways.
“It was an incredible experience, just being with the Israelis,” said Simonds. “Meeting teams from other countries was just incredible.”
Simonds’ path to playing on Team Israel began four years ago when she played in the Jewish Community Center Maccabi Games with Baltimore. An Israeli coach was on hand and asked if Simonds would be interested in going to London a year later and playing for the Israel under-15 team in a tournament there.
She played on the team and eventually went to the Jewish state on a service trip last winter, tried out for the 2019 World Lacrosse team and was selected by Team Israel.
Maisie is a ninth grade student at the Friends School. She said that the under-15, under-18 and under-19 teams all had Friday night dinners and went to Shabbat services together in a small synagogue in Ontario.
“The synagogue was a little bit different than I’m used to, but it was really good,” she said. “The lacrosse experience was great, but I also really enjoyed making the new friends from all the different places.”
Maisie learned about Team Israel a few years ago when her brother played and had a good experience. She discovered on social media that Team Israel might need some help in 2019, so she contacted them and found a spot on the team.
“The girls on our team were very experienced,” she said. “A lot of them were very good players. It was a lot of fun to play with them and learn from them. It helped my game.”
Molly found her way onto Team Israel much like Simonds. She received an email from Team Israel asking if she was interested in playing for them at this tournament.
The international game was different to Molly, and earning the chance to play with the Israelis added to her development.
“Just getting to play with different skill levels and different people, and just learning to play with other people was great,” she said. “It was a really good experience.”
She said what made it better was that she — and Maisie — were able to play on the team that won the bronze medal. Molly said the medal is now hanging in her room at home. She also was called up to play a few games for the under-18 team and fared well there.
In the end, Molly, Maisie and Simonds said they loved everything about playing for Team Israel, from the lacrosse to the religious moments. “It was really fun,” Maisie said. “I’d sure like to do it again.”
Jeff Seidel is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.