During tryouts for the Bexley High School boys soccer team, junior Jordan Hoffman knew he was at a disadvantage. Physically, he was in Columbus, but his body was still on Israeli time.

During tryouts for the Bexley High School boys soccer team, junior Jordan Hoffman knew he was at a disadvantage. Physically, he was in Columbus, but his body was still on Israeli time.

Hoffman, junior Phillip Schuss and freshmen Noah Applebaum and Adam Hirsch arrived in Columbus at 2 p.m. Aug. 4 after participating in the week-long Jewish Community Center Maccabi Games in Jerusalem. Four hours later, the boys were competing for spots on varsity.

"Right when we came back, we played with the varsity to see if we were the right fit for the team," said Hoffman, the only one of the four to earn a varsity spot. "We went to practice at 6 p.m. and practiced until 8 p.m. That was like 3 or 4 a.m. in Israel. You work as hard as you can and that's where you show them what you have."

The Maccabi Games are sort of like an Olympics for Jewish youth, attracting teams from around the United States and around the world.

The Bexley students were part of a 10-player team that featured seven players from Ohio, two from New Orleans and one from Dallas. The team placed fourth in the eight-team Blue bracket after losing to a team from British Columbia 5-4 in a semifinal on July 28 and losing to a team from Phoenix/Tucson 2-1 in the final on July 30.

The four players missed the first three days of Bexley's training camp and had to fight their way through fatigue and jet lag their first week back, but Hoffman said the trip was worth it.

"I was nervous about going because I knew that was the most important week of the summer (for the Bexley team)," Hoffman said. "I knew (missing the week) would put us at a disadvantage. We knew we were going to have to work harder once we got back to get to where everyone else is.

"But going to Israel, practicing your religion and playing soccer was such a great experience. More than the competition, we met kids (from all over the world) and that helped us grow and mature."

Bexley coach Greg Kullman had no reservations about letting Hoffman and the other three players miss part of preseason training to participate in the Maccabi Games.

"Not everyone gets these types of opportunities and they should definitely take advantage of them," said Kullman, whose team was 0-4 after losing to Gahanna 2-0 on Aug. 29.

"You could just see on the faces of all the kids who came back from the trip that they had an experience that was rewarding and worthwhile. It's something that they will remember for a long time."

Hoffman was one of a handful of players selected from the tournament to play against the Israeli Under-19 national team. The international team ended up losing to Israel 1-0 in an exhibition match.

Hoffman, who was making his third trip to Israel, said the Maccabi Games were more than just an athletic competition.

During breaks between games, athletes were invited to an arts festival that featured a different production every night.

At the conclusion of the Games, athletes had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park.

Hoffman said the event helped bring the four Bexley players together.

"I really got to know those guys," he said. "By the time we got back, we missed a week of tryouts, but we developed some chemistry. It was good for our team bonding."