Great Neck father-son duo and lifelong basketball players Steve and Jackson Cronin will represent the U.S. in basketball at the Pan-American Maccabi Games this July.
Modeled after the Olympics and open to Jewish athletes from around the world, the Pan-American Maccabi Games are held once every four years in cooperation with Maccabi World Union. This year, the event will take place in Mexico City, Mexico, from July 5 to 15.
Named for the Maccabee family celebrated each year on Hanukkah for leading a Jewish revolt against Hellenism more than 2,000 years ago, the event aims to unite members of the Jewish diaspora.
“It’s an honor to represent the United States as a Jew and play in these games,” said Jackson, who will be competing in the event for the first time.
His father, Steve, competed as a pro in the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1989, shortly after graduating from Tufts University, where he also played basketball.
“We won silver that year, losing to Israel,” he said. “But, the true victory was establishing incredible relationships for life.”
To this day, he is still in touch with his teammates. He also competed in the world Maccabiah Games in 2009 and 2013. This summer, he will be competing in the Masters 45+ division.
“I thought I had retired from playing, but when Jackson made the 16 and under team to compete in the Pan-American Games this summer, I thought it would be an amazing experience to represent my country with my son and compete in Mexico City. One of my teammates from 1989, Robbie Weingard, is coaching Jackson’s team, so it is that much more extraordinary.”
It’s extraordinary for Jackson as well.
“For my entire life, my dad has played in these games and, now, for me to finally start to play in them, too, is just crazy,” he said.
Jackson also plays point guard for the varsity basketball team at Great Neck North, where he will be a junior this fall, and for an Adidas-sponsored travel team with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
“My long-term goals in basketball are to win a state championship with my friends here in Great Neck and, then, hopefully, to play in college,” said Jackson. “I would love to try to play overseas somewhere after college and experience living in another country.”
As for the Pan-American Maccabi Games, Jackson’s goal is “to win gold and become a better basketball player, but more than that it is to make relationships for life, as I have seen my father do.”
Steve couldn’t agree more.
“Winning medals or championships is always incredible, but, building relationships with other individuals from all over the country is what it’s all about to me,” said Steve. “Sharing this with my son is second to none.”