Behind Winning U.S. Soccer Team, A Holocaust Survivor
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Behind Winning U.S. Soccer Team, A Holocaust Survivor

Record-breaking midfielder Carli Lloyd's beloved high school coach was born in Theresienstadt.

After watching Carli Lloyd’s record-breaking performance during last night’s World Cup final, fans have been praising the New Jersey native, even suggesting that her image be put on the $10 bill.

However, for one particular Jewish supporter — had he been alive to watch the game — her success would have come as no surprise.

From 1997 — when he first began to coach Lloyd at Delran High School, until his death in January — Rudi Klobach was one of the soccer star’s most loyal fans.

“He was never surprised at her success because she had always been so driven,” Klobach’s wife Barbara told the New York Times in an interview last week. “He liked coaching her because she was so serious about the game. Some girls were just there for social hour, but no, not Carli.”

Lloyd scored the quickest goal in the Women's World Cup final yesterday, in the third minute of the 5-2 U.S. victory over Japan.

Working hard and striving for success was no foreign concept to Klobach. He was born in 1944 in the Nazi Theresienstadt concentration camp, where his father had the horrific task of collecting bodies for burial. After the war he settled in Dusseldorf, Germany with his family, and later in the United States, where he eventually became a cherished high school German teacher, and later, an award-winning girls soccer coach.

Though a remarkable influence on Lloyd’s career, Klobach isn’t the only Jewish tie to the United States National team. Some of its most celebrated former players are fellow members of the tribe. Debbie Redemacher (formerly Debbie Belkin) was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 2012 after winning the 1991 Women’s World Cup, and midfielder Yael Averbuch currently plays on the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Throughout his life Klobach always felt a special connection to the team he had helped reach Olympic success, always carving out time to watch his cherished students play, the New York Times reported.

“That’s my girl,” the coach would kvell to his wife while watching Lloyd kick goal after goal.

editor@jewishweek.org

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