"It had been a dream of mine since college to coach a team representing my country, wearing the Red, White and Blue," Coach Pearl said. "I can't thank Mike Hamilton, the university administration and our fans enough for how supportive they were in helping and encouraging me to realize that dream. I was away from my job for three weeks, but I felt like I had the full support of everyone here at UT the entire time.
"And now for them to honor the accomplishments of the Maccabi Team at a Tennessee football game in front of 100,000 fans... it's just another example of why I'm immensely blessed to be a part of the University of Tennessee family."
The U.S. Maccabi Team outscored its opponents by an average of 35.8 points per game (104.8 to 69.0) this past summer while effectively utilizing Pearl's trademark up-tempo style of basketball.
Steven Pearl, a junior forward for the Vols, was a key contributor for the Americans as they toppled opposing teams from Mexico, France, Argentina and Canada. He logged 10 points, a team-high seven rebounds and seven assists in the win over Argentina that propelled Maccabi USA into the medal round.
Jacqui Pearl assisted coach Pearl and Maccabi USA assistant coach Harris Adler—who works as an assistant coach at La Salle—on the bench during games while also handling administrative and managerial tasks.
"Being a part of the Maccabi experience is something I will never forget," Jacqui Pearl said. "What an opportunity to get to travel to a country I hold so dear in my heart. The experiences I had were priceless, and I also met some incredible people who I'm certain will be lifelong friends. My dad, my brother and I are proud to bring a gold medal home to Knoxville."
Both Steven and Jacqui also kept fans abreast of the team's progress and off-the-court experiences from training camp in Philadelphia through the duration of The Games in Israel via personal blogs on UTsports.com.
"The entire experience was made so much more special for me personally because Jacqui and Steven and (my wife) Brandy and my parents were right there alongside me the whole way,"?coach Pearl said. "Sharing all those memories with my family was a big part of what made it so exciting."
Joining the Pearls on the field for Saturday's recognition will be longtime UT supporter Bob Goodfriend, who served as general chairman of Maccabi USA's open team. Goodfriend oversaw the team's operations and fundraising.
The U.S. Maccabi Team's successful campaign gave the United States just its third gold medal at the quadrennial Games in the last 24 years, as teams from nations such as France, Israel and Russia have risen to prominence in recent years. From 1950-81, USA won gold seven times. Israel was the gold-medal-winner at the 17th Games in 2005 but was forced to settle for silver this past summer. Canada won the bronze.
Joining Tennessee's Steven Pearl on the Maccabi USA roster were Bryan Cohen, Dane DiLiegro, Avi Fogel, Todd Golden, Steven Gruber, Dan Grunfeld, Brent Harvey, Seth Hauben, Jeff Horowitz, Zack Rosen and Dustin Villepigue.
"I'm honored to be able to walk out on that field Saturday as an American Maccabiah gold-medal winner," Steven Pearl said. "I'll be thinking about my teammates and representing them and everything we accomplished together."