The Andro Stars
Updated: Aug 10, 2019
Just about a year ago, I had the thrill of doing a "Quaz" with New York Times bestselling author Jeff Pearlman (whose Football for a Buck is extraordinary, in case you haven't read it). During the interview, he told me that he'd never written a book where he "came to love the people involved." But reading ONE GOAL, and reading some of the pieces I'd written about Lewiston and some of my blog posts, he got the impression "you feel something deep for some of these kids." He wondered how it impacted the research and writing process, to which I replied:
Think about what we’re talking about here: displaced peoples, refugees, which are at the heart of this story – there are some 60 million of them on this planet. And we are living in a moment when the President of the United States – the President — called many of the places they are fleeing or have fled “shitholes.” So what do we want this story to be? Do we want these people to cease to exist? When their own places, their homes, are destroyed by forces outside their own scope of power, do we want them to fade into the ether and use profane language to describe their homelands? Or do we want to be humans, and recognize that whatever happens to them is part of all of us? Because that’s humanity, right? So did thinking like that have an impact on my storytelling? I hope so. I don’t think it’s bias. I think it’s passion.
At the heart of ONE GOAL is a story of community -- of what can happen when something unites people, even if only for the minutes of a soccer game. And the work of community is never-ending and it is hard, ensuring that when fractures occur, moments of coming together can be created and reinforced, finding a path forward under the most difficult of circumstances.
For the past several weeks, I've been working with some of the amazing community organizers and volunteers in Lewiston to support the Andro Stars. As it says on the flyer I wrote for them, the Andro Stars is a soccer club created in 2016 in Lewiston to give kids a chance to fuel their passion for the game during the offseason -- at no cost.
Let's say that part again: at no cost.
Just as the Lewiston Blue Devils had another championship season, winning their third state championship in four years, with standout junior Bilal Hersi taking All-American honors (and just named GPS National Team Male Player of the Year), the Andro Stars were U13 and U17 Premiere League Champions. The club brings kids from Lewiston and surrounding areas together to play the game, work together, and -- of course -- build community. But all of that comes with a price. With its mission to make competitive soccer available to everyone, the Andro Stars need support -- passion can only take a team so far. Player registrations, travel, tournament fees, and field rentals add up, not to mention the ongoing needs of shin guards, uniforms, balls, and pinnies.
Whether talking to students in a school, folks at a library talk, or book lovers at a signing, I get asked: how can we help? what can we do? There are so many answers to that question. Get involved in your community, volunteer, become aware, get vocal. Or, if you are so inclined, write a check to the fabulous, hardworking folks at the Lewiston Recreation Department, which have partnered with the Andro Stars.