Lacrosse the Globe
Matt Cherry ’13 experiences world lacrosse via Israeli national team
by Tony Moore
June 27, 2012
When he’s not on the attack for the Israeli national team, Matt Cherry ’13 plays midfield for the Red Devils.
The sport of lacrosse was only introduced in Israel in 2010 when the National Lacrosse League was founded, but by spring 2011, the Federation of International Lacrosse had recognized the league as an associate member.
“Right away, I jumped on board and wanted to play,” says Matt Cherry ’13, a political-science major who plays midfield on the Dickinson squad.
The pieces began falling into place for Cherry when it was announced in January 2012 that Mark Greenberg, a member of the U.S. Lacrosse National Hall of Fame, was named assistant coach for the Israeli national team.
“I played with Sam Greenberg [’12] at Dickinson, so when his dad was called to be a coach for the Israeli team, Sam got me in touch with him,” Cherry says. “The coaches looked over my lacrosse history, we did a few phone interviews and before I knew it I was on the team.”
Cherry, a two-time All-Centennial Conference team member, ranks fifth all-time for the Red Devils in assists (68) and is 12th on the career-points list (133).
Cherry says that his first step was heading to Israel for training camp, where he met the rest of the team and found that he wasn’t the only American eager to play for Israel. “The team is a mix of Israelis and Americans. Some of the Americans are also Israeli, because they became Israeli citizens,” he says.
While he is listed as playing attack on the roster, obstacles still remain to Cherry fully participating with the team. “I can play in the festival tournament [which began June 20] but not in the European Championships, because I don’t have an Israeli passport.” His goal now is getting a passport in time for the 2014 World Games.
Leading up to the festival tournament, Cherry and the team played their way across Europe. “We traveled to Istanbul, where we played the Turkish and Bulgarian teams. It was an unbelievable experience,” he says. “At night we went on a boat ride with the Turkish team, saw palaces. It turned into a great team-bonding experience.”
With the London Summer Olympics coming up, Cherry says that lacrosse’s exclusion from the games is a real conversation starter around the locker room.
“The Olympics are a huge topic here, and some of the big-name guys think that lacrosse will be recognized as an Olympic sport in eight years.” But for now, Cherry’s summer abroad continues, allowing him to immerse himself in the Israeli way of life while sharpening his skills for his fall return to the Red Devils.
“Soon we’ll be going back to Israel for about three weeks, where I’ll be promoting the game, traveling the country and exploring the culture,” he says.
Finding satisfaction beyond the lacrosse field, Cherry’s experience has also given him some insight into his own Jewish heritage. “It’s been an amazing experience—going to Masada, going to the Western Wall, going to the Dead Sea. As I’ve become more aware of the culture, I’ve felt a real connection to the Jewish people. I’ve even picked up some Hebrew along the way.”