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Cheap Seats: Sami Zerwitz Competes Despite Family Tragedy

By Chris Garman

On July 21, the Zerwitz family endured a tragic loss when Louis, proud husband and father, drowned in a scuba-diving accident. Less than a month later, from Aug. 12-17, Louis' daughter, Sami, participated in the 2012 Maccabi Games in Rockland, N.Y., for lacrosse. With the support of her mother, Randi, and brother, Luke, Sami and the Baltimore team left the tournament with the silver medal.

"It was a great experience for her to meet kids from all over the country and world that are Jewish and loved sports, particularly lacrosse, like her," Randi said.

Sami said that with everything going on around her, she was motivated to honor her father.

"I knew if my dad was here, he would be proud of me," Sami said. "I tried my best for him."

Sami's coach on the Baltimore team, Andy Heller, said he was also proud of her performance.

"Sami went out and played hard, and when she was in the game, gave 200 percent," Heller said. "Sami has such a great attitude and work ethic. She's always smiling and laughing."

Sami's teammates supported her during the weeks leading up to the tournament.

"When the team heard about the sad and tragic news about Sami's dad, the girls all came together and wanted to be there for Sami and her family and do something special," Heller said. "The entire team showed so much love and support for Sami."

To honor Sami's father, the team wore ribbons that had Louis' initials on them. Some even used eye black to write his initials on their bodies.

Fellow parents also pitched in their support. Randi could not make the trip to New York for the games, but the parents in attendance made sure to send constant updates about how her daughter's team was doing.

Through the years, Louis was always involved with Sami when it came to her sports connections. When Sami was cheerleading, her father came to most of the games, especially for her team's halftime performances. When Sami played lacrosse on both club and recreational teams, her father was almost always watching.

This year was the first time Sami had participated in the Maccabi Games. She heard about it from friends of hers, who had played in the soccer competition. Though she did not come home with a gold medal, she said she had enjoyed the experience.

"It felt really great, because I was playing with girls a lot older than me from all over the country and Great Britain," Sami said, "and I could keep up with their level of play."

Sami said she had returned to her Baltimore home following the Maccabi Games without any regrets and knowing her father would have been happy with her performance.

"I think he would have been really … happy that I tried my best no matter what," Sami said, "and that I wasn't intimidated because of the [competitors'] age and skill."

More Cheap Seats:
It May Be A New Gino's, But It's Same Old Place
Sports Boosters Aiming To Sign Life Members
Kinesiology Tape: Miracle Or Myth?
Sami Zerwitz Competes Despite Family Tragedy
Save-A-Limb Festival Set For Oregon Ridge

Issue 177: September 2012