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Global Dec 08, 2015

Eastern New York product Shayna Levy playing for Israeli U-19 WNT

levy-enyysa(Via ENYYSA) – With the lights of the Empire State Building glowing in blue-and-white and the antenna being one very large candle to welcome Hanukkah last night, now’s the perfect time to write about Shayna Levy as she grew up in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) but left the bright lights of the big city to travel abroad and represent Israel internationally.

The Brewster resident played for the North Salem Jaguars and FC Lewisboro Xtreme, both of the East Hudson Youth Soccer League(EHYSL), and FC Sting 96 of the Westchester Youth Soccer League (WYSL). The Sting made it all the way to the Eastern New York Girls-Under-15 State Open Cup finals in 2012 before losing to Farmingdale United, 3-0.

At North Salem High School, Shayna led the Bears to two quarterfinal and two semifinal playoff berths and was honored two-time All-State, two-time League Player of the Year, two-time All-Section and three-time Varsity Scholar Athlete while maintaining a 99.29 GPA.

With the United States being number one in women’s soccer and there being a large number of Jews in New York, the Israel Football Association held tryouts on Long Island for their women’s program in June 2014. Shayna tried out, made the Israel Girls-Under-19 Youth National Team and claimed “Aliyah” at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv to become an Israeli citizen so she could play for Israel.

“Everything somehow lined up perfectly and I fulfilled a dream I always had,” Shayna said in an interview with the North Salem News.

“I always knew I would come to Israel at some point,” added Shayna, whose maternal grandparents are Israeli citizens now living in the USA. “I don’t doubt it was something I would have done, regardless of the team, sometime in the future.”

As many of Israel’s neighboring countries either do not recognize the state or will not play them, Israel is forced to play against the better competition in Europe even though it’s located in Asia. Last March, Israel hosted the Girls-Under-19 Euro Cup, losing to Sweden, Denmark and France but getting better with every game as Shayna started in central defense.

To prepare, Shayna lived at the Wingate Institute in Netanya with her teammates, most of whom were Israeli except for one Canadian native and three Americans. Wingate is a sports training facility, Army base, boarding school and college. She spent six months practicing twice a day and then played a weekly game against other Under-19 Israeli women’s teams. Other than train, she spent her time doing yoga, studying Hebrew and hanging out in Tel Aviv, which was a half-hour drive from where she lived.

As a freshman this fall, Shayna started as a defender for the University of Rochester, helping lead the Yellow Jackets to a 8-7-2 record. During the college season, she went to Portugal to play for Israel, with her team defeating Estonia and losing to Portugal and Norway.

Shayna said she has become a more worldly person after spending time abroad.

“It might have been the best decision I ever made,” she said. “It was the greatest experience of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

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