Produced by JC Obringer and Nick Panozzo
Ball State swimmer Bradley Ridge knew he was good. He just needed the opportunity to prove it.
This season, Ridge traveled to Santiago, Chile, to represent not only the Cardinals, but his country and his faith in the 13th Annual Pan American Maccabi Games.
During his time in Chili, Ridge not only excelled in the pool, but also gain new insite and a sense of pride competing alongside over 4,000 athletes who shared a common belief.
“While competing at the Maccabi Games, I gained a sense of pride in who I am, and I know I don’t have to be afraid of this aspect of my life,” Ridge said. “I don’t need to be afraid to tell people I am Jewish. I can say that with the utmost pride, because I know there are communities all over the world who share this pride with me now. I was able to represent that through sports and athletics, and that is something I love even more.”
Sponsored by the Latin American Maccabi Confederation (CLAM), the 2015 Pan American Maccabi Games, held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Santiago, Chili, were an international multi-sport competition and celebration of Jewish unity, culture, and heritage through athletic competition.
“The most impactful part of the Maccabi experience was the opening ceremony,” Ridge said. “They had all 4,000 athletes, 22 countries and 18 sports gathered together in a football stadium. We were surrounded by people who were there to celebrate and do exactly what we were there to do. It was an immense understanding of what it meant to be there, all of us in one place in the world. Even though it was thousands of miles from home, I still felt connected to home, but at the same time I felt connected to people all over the world who shared that meaning with me.”
Ridge’s medal count included eight golds, two silvers and a bronze. He won a medal in every event he competed in over the three days of swimming competition, and helped MaccabiUSA return atop the medal count with 133. Host Chili was second at 95, followed by Argentina with 27.