by MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Every four years, the European Maccabi Games bring together 2,000-plus Jewish athletes from more than 30 nations to compete in 19 sports. Much of this summer’s weeklong event took place in a Berlin auditorium originally constructed for the Olympics in 1936—the year when Adolf Hitler banned Jewish athletes from the competition.
So when Catherine Perlmutter ’17 (left) and Freddie Bancroft ’18 (right) were accepted to play in the 2015 games this past summer, they entered a poignant moment in Jewish sports history. Seventy years after the end of World War II, they played field hockey in the auditorium from which Jews were once banned, and during the first-ever Maccabi Games on German soil.
Athletics is a family affair for Bancroft, who began to play field hockey in third grade. “I also played all of the same sports as my three brothers—T-ball, soccer, tennis—but as I got better at field hockey, I decided I enjoyed playing a sport all my own,” she says. “I wanted to teach them, instead of the other way around.”
Bancroft visited Dickinson at the recommendation of her aunt Susan Hering Foster ’83 and grandfather George Hering ’53. Her overnight stay with the field hockey team—and her meeting with Head Coach Caitlin Williams Dallmeyer—played a major factor in her decision to choose Dickinson.
“She’s the kind of athlete every coach loves to have on their team,” Dallmeyer says, noting that Bancroft is a consistent force in the backfield and “one of the first players to ask for extra touches on the ball.” During her first year on campus, Bancroft played four games as goalkeeper, making 11 stops and posting a .786 save percentage; she also tallied a solo shutout against Swarthmore College and shared another at Frostburg State University.
A double major in Spanish and neuroscience, Perlmutter joined her first field-hockey team in eighth grade. Three years later, she was playing in a competitive club near her home in Blue Bell, Pa., and field hockey became a big part of her identity and daily life.
Today, this forward is one of the most skilled players to enter Dickinson’s field-hockey program, according to Dallmeyer, who cites Perlmutter’s energy, creativity, elimination skills and mentorship to younger players as great assets to the team. After only two years at Dickinson, Perlmutter is ranked 10th in career points. She also earned All-Region and All-Centennial Conference honors in 2013 and 2014.
Both players point to last year’s game against Susquehanna University, during which the Red Devils beat the Crusaders for the first time in a decade, as among the most memorable.
“We were up by one goal with not that much time left, and the team went into a stall,” Bancroft remembers. “The atmosphere was so high-energy and we were all cheering each other on, and we won the game. All our hard work during pre-season had paid off.”
Still, their favorite part of playing at Dickinson is not the wins, but the team that earns them. “I love that feeling when I’m watching my teammates and they just click—whether it be an amazing passing combination or someone shooting the ball and another teammate assisting,” Bancroft says.
“Our energy makes me happy to play,” Perlmutter agrees, adding that because the conference is competitive, every game is exciting. “I feel lucky to be a part of such a great program. I’m proud to be a Red Devil.”
Read more in the fall 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.
Published November 13, 2015