Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Two Dragons Win Medals For Team USA At Maccabi Games

John Nash

​It was about more than just sports. Much more.

 

​At the 2022 Maccabi Games, two Greens Farms Academy student-athletes experienced a summer to remember in Israel.  They came out of the Games with two medals and a lifetime’s worth of experiences.

 

Rising senior Oscar Edelman won gold with Team USA’s basketball squad while rising sophomore wrestler Jasper Dermont took bronze.

 

But the journey was about so much more for both Dragons.

 

“The experience was bigger than basketball, that’s for sure,” Edelman said. “I went there not just to play basketball, but to experience the country and really dive deeper into my religion.”

 

Dermont added that all the athletes got to meet people from all over the world, making friendships he hopes last a lifetime.

 

“The wrestling took place in Be’er Sheva, a city in the middle of the desert in Israel,” Dermont said. “It was very cool to get to travel there and meet kids who are growing up and wrestling over there. Most of the Israeli people that live there have immigrated from Russia, Ukraine, or Georgia within the last 20 years. In that region of Israel, the main language is Russian. All of the street signs are in Hebrew and underneath Russian. Wrestling is a very popular sport in that region of Israel.”

 

Edelman also befriended many other athletes from foreign countries while also visiting a number of ​sites​ extremely meaningful to him​, like the Dead Sea and the Wailing Wall.

 

“It was just amazing to be around a lot of other Jewish athletes, getting to create those friendships and meeting other people from other countries,” Edelman said.

 

One of the bigger moments, Edelman recalled, was getting ready for his game of the tournament.

 

“It was really overwhelming, looking into the hotel mirror and seeing ‘USA’ across my chest,” Edelman said. “It was like a dream come true. I never thought I’d be in that position when I first started playing basketball, and having my family see that.”

 

Edelman netted 20 points against Germany and had 15 against Mexico.

 

His tournament almost got derailed, however, when he became ill before Team USA’s semifinal against Australia.

 

The 6-foot-6 senior bounced back to play in the championship game, though, with Edelman contributing six points—including a big 3-point shot—and 10 rebounds to Team USA’s gold medal efforts.

 

“It was amazing, having the privilege to play in that game and being lucky enough to make an impact,” Edelman said. “I was looking at my parents after the game, and (former NBA player) Amar'e Stoudemire gave us our medals and I got to hug him after. Our coach was in tears in the locker room afterwards.”

 

One of the things the players talked about was all they had left behind—their summer vacations, their AAU tournaments and the all-important recruiting season that went with it.

 

But Edelman said, all agreed, it was worth it.

 

“It was worth missing a month of my life back here,” he said.

 

First-year GFA boys basketball coach JJ Hoffstein knows the journey Edelman had this summer will pay off for his entire program, as well.

 

“I see this summer experience for him as a watershed for him to have gone through,” Hoffstein said. “It’s going to set him up personally for a great senior season, but I can tell already it’s going to set our team up in a really positive way. At GFA, we always talk about being globally minded and there was no better way for Oscar to be more globally minded than taking his basketball talent and to represent his country in Israel. It’s the type of experience that one player goes through, but the effects can ripple out into the rest of the team.”

 

Wrestling at 74 kilograms, Dermont brought home the bronze medal for his efforts—yet another feather in ​GFA Wrestling’s cap​.

 

“Jasper​'​s commitment to wrestling is amazing​.  He started​​ wrestling late​r in his life, and has since covered tremendous ground,” GFA wrestling coach Jack Conroy said. “I am excited to see what he can do in the future.”

 

Dermont is the second GFA wrestler​ in the School's history​ to medal in international competition, following Nico Provo’s gold medal at the Pan Am Cadet games in 2019.

 

“My biggest match was getting the opportunity to wrestle with the Cadet World Team member for Israel,” Dermont said. “Although I didn’t win the match it was very cool to get the experience of wrestling someone at that level.”

 

Dermont did bounce back from that defeat, however, to make his way to the podium against some of the top wrestlers in the world.

 

Dermont also got to make connections with many other wrestlers and coaches, creating friendships that will last him well into the future.

 

He admits he’s looking forward to taking part in the Games again in 2026.

 

“Overall, the best part of it was getting to practice with some of the best college wrestlers in the United States,” Dermont said, “as well as getting to hang out and get advice from them.”

 

Both athletes are now back home and preparing for their return to GFA and the winter seasons that lay ahead of them.

 

In their hearts, though, they will carry with them the experiences of the Summer of 2022 where the world of sports played a big role in both Oscar Edelman and Jasper Dermont seeing a bigger part of the world in which they live.