Eva Melamed first Jewish woman in McGill sports hall

Eva Melamed, right, is presented with a plaque by her former assistant coach Gayle Noble OWEN EGAN PHOTO, COURTESY OF MCGILL UNIVERSITY
Eva Melamed, right, is presented with a plaque by her former assistant coach Gayle Noble OWEN EGAN PHOTO, COURTESY OF MCGILL UNIVERSITY

Eva Melamed, a leading striker for the women’s soccer team, has become the first Jewish woman inducted into the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame.

She played three seasons for the Martlets (1998, 1999, 2001), earning all-conference honours three times and all-Canadian status twice.

By the end of her career with the Martlets, Melamed was the second-best all-time scoring leader with 65 goals in 56 games.

Melamed was among six outstanding former McGill athletes officially installed on Oct. 22.

“Obviously, this is a huge honour,” said Melamed, 36, now a lawyer and mother of two in Toronto. “I was just blown away when they told me; I never expected it.”

Melamed, who was born and grew up in Ottawa, was never expected to be a star athlete. “It was unusual for a Jewish girl in Ottawa at that time to compete in elite sports,” said Melamed, who attended Hillel Academy, one of two Jewish high schools that merged to form today’s Ottawa Jewish Community School.

Her talent was obvious from an early age and soccer was always her game. Her parents – who were not athletic – enrolled her at age eight or nine in a league and she soon was racking up points on the scoreboard.

From age 14, she played in the women’s league in Ottawa that won a national championship.

She was inducted into the Ottawa Jewish Sports Hall of Fame 10 years ago.

Melamed graduated from McGill with a BA in political science in 2002 before going on to study law at Osgoode Hall, from which she graduated in 2006.

As co-captain, she led the Marlets to Quebec league titles in 1999 and 2001, and also guided the team to a silver medal at the 2001 Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union (CIAU) national championship. That season, Melamed was voted Most Valuable Player of the Quebec Student Sport Federation (QSSF) and won the Chantal Navert Memorial Award as CIAU soccer player of the year.

She was named to the all-tournament team at CIAU national championships in both 1999 and 2001.

Melamed led the country in 1999 with 16 goals in 10 regular-season games and set a school single-season record with 27 goals in 17 games overall. This includes a personal best of four goals in a single game, not once, but twice.

After studying for a year in Israel, Melamed returned to McGill in 2001, winning the QSSF scoring title again and finishing second in the regular season with 16 goals in 10 games. She ended the year with 19 goals in 16 matches in total.

That year she also played for Canada at the FISU World University Summer Games in Beijing, and was the top scorer with six goals in four games.

Melamed was also a successful student, earning academic all-Canadian status and being named to the principal’s student athlete honour roll.

She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2007 and joined the law firm of Birenbaum, Steinberg, Landau, Savin & Colraine in 2008. She specializes in civil and commercial litigation.

She continues to play soccer competitively with women her age, many of them former all-Canadians like her.

Among the other new McGill Sports Hall of Fame inductees are three men who went on to professional careers: Samir Chahine, who played eight seasons in  the Canadian Football League, and brothers J.P. Darche and Mathieu Darche, who played, respectively, in the National Football League and National Hockey League.