One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together

Soccer has historically taken a backseat to hockey in Lewiston, Maine. But the arrival of thousands of Somali refugees to this overwhelmingly white, struggling former mill town has tipped that balance dramatically. Under the leadership of longtime coach Mike McGraw, the Lewiston High Blue Devils have become a powerhouse. Journalist Amy Bass spent months following the team from practice to the locker room to the field and back again, and she tells their story with grit and grace in her first book, One Goal.

Bass captures the team members in vivid character sketches: Maulid, Maslah, Karim, Zak, Abdi H. and their families. She traces their migrations from Somalia to Maine, most of them via refugee camps and unthinkable trauma. But like the players themselves, Bass doesn't focus on the tragedy: she's more interested in the team's progress and the ways their bond is transforming the community of Lewiston. There's no way to minimize the challenges: language barriers, sharp cultural divides and outright racism are only some of the constant tests they face. But with the help of dedicated teachers, community workers and team supporters, the Blue Devils have become a force on and off the field. McGraw's legendary team speeches and his constant rallying cry of "TOGETHER!" are echoed by the players' version: "Pamoja ndugu!" which means "together brothers" in Swahili. Bass's account of the 2015 championship season crackles with excitement, and her narrative of teamwork and hard-won community provides a ray of hope in deeply divisive times. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams 

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