By: Devyn Doyle, Dakota Watson, Mia Bolton
It’s family that fuels the game for this University of South Carolina beach volleyball player. The 21-year-old Junior, Macie Tendrich grew up in Boynton Beach, Florida with her sister, Taylor, and parents, Greg and Kim. It’s family that influenced Tendrich to play volleyball, and it’s family that is taking her overseas this summer to Israel to represent her country in the 2017 Maccabiah Games.
Macie Tendrich is a popular name at USC's Wheeler Beach, and for good reason. The Florida native originally came to USC as a preferred walk-on, but now holds the school record for most overall and dual wins in a single season with 26. Her victory count is currently at 70 and counting. Her love for beach stems from her childhood days practically living on the beach, and the support of her family.
At first glance, the Tendrichs are your everyday suburb family. The four share a love for the simple things in life: family, faith, animals and sports. However, take a closer look and you'll discover that this family is special. The Tendrich clan prides themselves on their close familial relationship, their strong Jewish faith, and their daughter's naturally gifted athleticism.
"We have not missed one of the 94 matches she [Macie] has started in as a Gamecock."- Greg Tendrich
It is Macie and her sister, Taylor, who are especially close. Despite the 5 year age gap, Taylor has always been a role model to Macie. From their early days on the beach, Tendrich always knew she wanted to be like her sister.
“I wanted to start playing beach volleyball...my sister played beach and I wanted to do everything she did.”- Macie Tendrich
Macie's mother Kim (left) Ryan Apt (Taylor’s fiance), sister Taylor, and father Greg cheer on Macie at a USC match.
When asked about the two's relationship, there was only one answer from their father, Greg.
"Taylor and Macie are without question best friends, confidants and soul mates." - Greg Tendrich
It was the sisters' dedication to their sport coupled with their family's strong Jewish faith that introduced the Maccabiah games into their lives.
"As parents, we have always stressed to our children the importance of their Jewish heritage as well as the value of travel in order to broaden their horizons of the world, and its many different people, cultures and ways of life."- Greg Tendrich
The Maccabiah Games is the third largest international sporting event in the world, right behind the Olympics, and The World Cup. The massive sporting event is made up of athletes of the Jewish faith from all around the world. The games are only held every four years with four different divisions: junior, open, masters, and disabled. Tendrich will be competing in the open division this coming July.
This global sporting event is nothing new to the Tendrich family. During her junior year of high school, Taylor was selected to play for the family's local Boca Raton, Florida JCC indoor volleyball team at the Maccabiah Games in 2008. She played at the national level, which appears annually, in San Diego, California. After some grueling match-ups, Taylor left the tournament with a Bronze Medal around her neck.
Taylor (right) at the Maccabiah games in 2008
Greg Tendrich has kept the games on his radar ever since his eldest daughter's involvement. So when he got the email about the 2017 games, he was on the phone with Macie within minutes. However, Macie first responded to her father's proposal to try out with a bit of hesitation. So she did what she always does when she's in a rut, she turned to her sister to offer a few words of encouragement.
“[She said] it was the best time ever; she met so many different people from around the world and that it was just a really cool experience.”-Macie Tendrich
Kim, and Greg support Macie and the Gamecocks
Macie took to her family's advice and decided to try out. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Tendrich. Over her school’s winter break, she traveled to California to try out for 1 of 2 spots on the beach team. She was pitted against 50 competitors in unfamiliar territory, an indoor court.
“I hadn’t played indoor in so long..I actually had to borrow a girl’s knee pads.”- Macie Tendrich
Ultimately Tendrich came out of the tryout on top, beating out her near 6-foot competition at her petite 5’3” stature. USC head coach, Moritz Moritz didn’t bat an eye when he heard of Tendrich’s success.
“She’s small and a little quiet, but she’s not meek… the way that you may perceive her at first gives you one impression, but then you compete against her and you realize that you’re competing against something way bigger, way more intimidating.”- Moritz Moritz
Macie celebrates as Moritz watches on the side
For now, Macie and her USC team will focus on their school season and the ultimate goal of making it to the national championship. Following the close of the school season, Macie will travel to Israel to start a new journey. Prior to the commencement of the Games, she will be traveling through Israel with a group of Maccabiah athletes to further learn about Israel and explore their Jewish heritage. As for expectations, it's the same as ever for the Tendrichs, to maintain pride in yourself, in family, and in faith.
"While a medal is the ultimate prize, our true goal for Macie is to have the time of her life and to represent her team, sport, country and the University of South Carolina with dignity and grace on and off the beach"- Greg Tendrich