Amy Bass, author of One Goal, addresses a packed audience of Lincoln Academy readers as part of Skidompha Library’s March 2019 Community Read
On Monday, March 18 award-winning author Amy Bass spoke to a packed house at Lincoln Academy’s Poe Theater about her book One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together, this month’s Community Read title co-sponsored by Skidompha Library and Lincoln Academy. The book chronicles Lewiston High School’s first ever soccer state championship, won by a team made up almost exclusively of immigrants, most of the refugees from Somalia.
In 2015 Bass covered the championship game for CNN, and her original 900-word article garnered tremendous attention and hundreds of online comments. That attention–both positive and negative–showed Bass and her editors how timely and essential this story of the Lewiston soccer team truly was. Within days of the article’s publication Bass decided to expand the story into a book.
Bass took a “deep dive” into her research, spending hundreds of hours in Lewiston getting to know the community, the families of the players and coaches, and the other characters that were integral in bringing a divided town together to support the 2015 championship team.
According the Bass, One Goal is “the story of the Lewiston Blue Devils, but it is also the story of how the French Canadians and the Somalis and the Mainers and the Ethiopians and many others all came together to build community,” said Bass. “Community isn’t just a place we live, it is how we come together and make meaning in our lives.”
Why soccer? “Soccer is how these kids live where they landed,” Bass explained. “Soccer brought the community together.”
Finishing the book and getting it to publication felt urgent to Bass, who worked for two years on the project. “This story about immigrants finding their place in a community is relevant now, and we need to get this out there for the world to read!” she told her editors. And since its publication in 2017, the book has been widely acclaimed as an essential story for our time.
Skidompha Library selected One Goal as their spring 2019 Community Read, and Lincoln Academy quickly jumped on as a partner. “When I realized that Skidompha had chosen a book that was about high school students, soccer, diversity, and tolerance, it seemed like a great way to bring the community together around one book,” said LA English Department Chair, who also serves as a member of the Skidompha Library Board of Directors. “The thought of hundreds of adults and students all reading the same book in our small community sounded great to me.”
In addition to the 150 books given away by Skidompha, LA distributed 225 books to students, faculty, and community members, including the entire ninth grade class and all English language learners. Bass’s Poe Theater presentation was entirely full with standing room only, and participants were not disappointed with Bass’s passionate talk, which easily translates into lessons we can all learn about building community and finding common ground.
“The rise of this team in so many ways shows what happens when America works the way it is supposed to,” said Bass. “It is the story of these refugee teenagers who make this improbable state-championship run in an almost entirely white state. There are 68 million displaced people in the world today. This story is about a handful of those displaced people who found a home. It is a story about a hockey town that made room for soccer, and reached a goal that had been elusive for a long time. It is about how and why we need to take a moment to think about how much people can do when we do things together.”
Community Read events around One Goal, including a talk by Coach Mike McGraw and a community soccer game will continue throughout the month of March. A complete schedule is available on the Skidompha Library website.