Please join us Monday, July 16 for an Author Talk with Amy Bass. This program runs 6:30-7:30PM and is free and open to the public.
"This is not just a great story, deftly reported and unflinchingly told. It's not just a story of one obscure high school season. It's the American story, just when you feared it might be fading fast, renewed."
-- S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer and author of Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football and an American Town
"Amy Bass tells a story that encompasses many of the things people love about sports, but also epitomizes many of the reasons sports matter."
-- Bob Costas
“We play,” Coach Mike McGraw told his high school soccer team in one of his legendary pregame speeches, “the right way. You rise above everybody else. We play hard. We play fair. Because winning without playing fair is a shallow victory. You let other people play those games. Those games take energy, energy that they waste.”
Lewiston, Maine, where McGraw coaches the Blue Devils soccer team, was an overwhelmingly white community in one of the whitest states in America. Once a thriving mill town of the Industrial Revolution, it had become pockmarked with abandoned factory buildings crumbling into the river and canals. More than half of the city’s families with children under five were living at or below the poverty line. In 2001, however, the city’s energy changed dramatically as thousands of Somali refugees began to arrive and Lewiston became embroiled in chronic racial tension. Within a decade, the town’s non-white population surged more than 800 percent. The city of 36,000 had become home to approximately 7,000 African immigrants; never in modern U.S. history had a town of its size taken in so many newcomers so quickly.
In ONE GOAL: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together, Amy Bass tells the timely and inspiring story of how the longtime Lewiston community and its newly arrived Somali immigrants came together on the soccer field to chase dreams of national glory.
As Bass explains, perhaps nowhere were these racial tensions more apparent than on the high school soccer team, the Lewiston Blue Devils. As immigrant kids joined the team, they had to tackle language and cultural barriers while dealing with openly racist hostility on the streets of their new home. But behind the tumult and unease, the team, made up of both longtime locals and Somali immigrants and led by longtime coach McGraw, honed their plays and their teamwork to build a powerhouse with one goal: the first state soccer championship in Lewiston history.
The Blue Devils’ efforts paid off stunningly, as they soared to the top ranks of high school soccer in a story that speaks to far more than sporting achievement. ONE GOAL showcases the Blue Devils and their championship run against the backdrop of politicians debating Syrian refugees and a national security and media landscape saturated with Donald J. Trump’s plans to build a wall, implement unprecedented travel bans, and denigrate immigrant homelands with profane language. Ultimately, ONE GOAL tells the story of what happens when America works the way it is supposed to, offering a testament to the power of community and a hope for our times — a story and a message more necessary now than ever.