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The Homewood Tricorne

The Homewood Tricorne

The Student News Site of Homewood High School

The Homewood Tricorne

HHS teacher stars in Pan American Maccabi Games

Hepp+playing+in+the+Pan+American+Maccabi+Games+in+Buenos+Aires%2C+Argentina.
Sandy Slater
Hepp playing in the Pan American Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

While many were celebrating the holidays at home, Homewood High School math teacher and girls’ soccer coach Ryan Hepp was in Argentina playing soccer in the Pan American Maccabi Games.

The event is a soccer tournament for Jewish athletes and athletes of Jewish descent to come together and compete. The 2023 tournament was in Buenos Aires with soccer players and clubs from all over the Western Hemisphere traveling to participate.

Unlike many countries that sent a pre-existing club team, the United States’ team consisted of individual players from all over the nation, two of whom were Hepp and his brother. The team had never played together, or even met, before the tournament.

“In that first game, we were literally asking each other names in the middle of the game,” Hepp said.

Over the span of the tournament,  Hepp’s team played against Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina’s under-23 team and Argentina’s open team, beating both of the teams who competed in the finals.

Preston Goldfarb, former FC Birmingham and Birmingham Southern College soccer coach led the American team in the tournament. He said that Hepp wasn’t initially on the starting lineup, but upon a player falling injured prior to the trip, he was put in as a starter. 

The United States’ soccer team at the Pan American Maccabi Games. (Photo contributed by Ryan Hepp)

“That thrust Ryan into a position that he didn’t relinquish,” Goldfarb said. “[He] was absolutely exemplary.”

Hepp said he was one of only four players who played every second of every game that the team played, many of which were against professional players.

Goldfarb said that even through mild injury, Hepp played well in the final match against Argentina’s open team. 

“I’ve been in coaching for over 51 years, and our last game against Argentina was my proudest moment as a coach,” Goldfarb said.

Hepp participated in Goldfarb’s youth soccer camps from as young as nine years old, and they maintained a player-coach relationship ever since. 

Hepp plays for FC Birmingham, where until December, Goldfarb was his coach. 

“I knew him from a youth player all the way up,” Goldfarb said. “Ryan was always more of an exceptional player.”

Now, Hepp has played soccer for over 20 years, and the Pan American Maccabi Games was just the latest installment of his soccer career. 

“That’s a childhood dream that I just checked off,” Hepp said.

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