By Mike McMahon
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Not many people can say they spent their summer winning a gold medal for Team USA, but Merrimack junior guard Chloe Rothman can.
Rothman spent most of this past July in Israel playing for Team USA at the Maccabiah Games. She only tried out after some urging from her high-school teammate, Sophie Bikofsky, who is a forward at Brown University and is one of the best 3-point shooters in Division 1 with a .497 percentage this winter.
“She was one of my best friends in high school and she was the one actually going to try out,” Rothman said.
“She told me where it was, and it was only in New York, so it’s a quick bus ride, so I went down there. It was an intimidating tryout. There were a lot of Division 1 players there. I was one of only three Division 2 players to make the team, so it was intimidating but fun. I don’t think I would have even tried out for the team if it wasn’t for her.”
Both Rothman and Bikofsky made the team, putting the friends, who have been close since about fifth grade, back in the same uniform for the first time since they went 21-2 as high school seniors at Newton South.
Rothman says she hopes they’ll be able to play again in the future, but if not, winning a gold medal and erasing the heartache of a state tournament upset loss their senior season was a nice way to stamp their playing days together.
“For both of us to make the team was incredible,” said the 5-7 junior guard. “Not only to get the chance to travel to Israel and play for Team USA, but to do it with one of your best friends?
It doesn’t really get any better than that. We played together in high school and we had a disappointing end to our senior year.
“When that game ended, with me going to Merrimack and (Sophie) going off to Brown, I figured we were never going to get the chance to play together again. Not only to have the opportunity to play on the team, but to do it with her was really incredible. Then to win the gold medal, that was awesome.”
The schedule was both grueling and fun.
The team would hit the floor every morning around 6:30 for a two-hour practice.
Then it was back to the hotel for breakfast before boarding a bus for about eight hours of touring.
“You don’t want to go to a place like that and not see everything you can see,” Rothman said.
“We got to know a lot of the other athletes, too. I made a lot of friends over there. We traveled a lot with the men’s hockey team and we got to interact with a lot of other teams. It was cool watching other teams have success.
“It was a big support group. When we won our medal, and we got back to where we were staying that night, the other teams were there to congratulate us like we were with them, so that was a cool feeling.”
It was a nice blend of travel and basketball for the hard-working Rothman.
“I joke with my family, but I don’t think I’ve been on a skiing trip with them in about 15 years,” she said.
“In the winter, it’s all about basketball and in the summer, I’m usually training for basketball. I love it.”
Rothman led the Warriors in scoring last season with 12.5 points per game and has upped her average to a team-best 13.3 points per game this year, scoring a season-high 24 points when the Warriors upset No. 20 Adelphi last month. The Warriors were 11-14 heading into last night.
Last season, as the No. 10 seed (the final seed to make the NE-10 tournament), the Warriors advanced to the conference semifinals before Assumption pulled away late for a 74-64 win.