The Greyhound

How a divided town was brought together

Carlos Gongaza, Staff Writer

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A high school soccer team from a town in Maine has become a powerhouse by getting players from different countries to work together.

The team is showing people what can be accomplished when they put aside their differences and work together. The town of Lewiston was 96% white in 2000, when an influx of about 7,000 immigrants, many of them from Somalia, began arriving at the turn of the century, causing tension in the existing community.

“I think everybody looked at them with kind of a squinty eye,” said head soccer coach Mike McGraw.

“This team plays soccer like Maine had never seen before, but it’s more than that,” author Amy Bass told Hager.

Bass has just released a book about this remarkable team.

She continues, “It’s about a community, it’s about their families, it’s about refugees around the world. And it’s about America sort of figuring out how to live up to the ideals that it writes down on paper on a daily basis.”

Coach McGraw was inspired to recruit the talented Somalian players into the existing high school team. According to Today, McGraw saw the addition of immigrant players as a chance to improve the program rather than hurting it.

“They’re like a rainbow of opportunity because they’re all so vastly different,” he said. The biggest challenge was melding a cohesive team out of a group of teens who would often separate themselves by racial lines.

According to McGraw, “I knew that if I could get them to blend their skills and blend their intensity and blend the things that they do really well, I knew that we were gonna have success.”

Thanks to all of the staff and players coming together and putting aside all their differences The Blue Devils won the Class A state championship in 2015, finishing 18-0 and ranked in the top 25 in the nation with a team featuring players from six different countries.

“Soccer just brings us all together,” teammate, Jeremy Helper said. Soccer brings all different countries and cultures together that is also whys soccer is called “the beautiful game.”

“The one thing that’s great about the different cultures is if they actually talk to each other, they find out they’re more similar than different,” Coach McGraw stated.

 

 

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How a divided town was brought together