Driving back from the hospital one day, I caught an interview with author Amy Bass discussing her new book, One Goal. The book centers upon the town of Lewiston, Maine, and its high school soccer program. In 2015, the “Blue Devils” (that’s really what caught my attention…GO DUKE), won the State title for Maine. They had never accomplished this feat; which they repeated again in 2017.
What makes this feat amazing is to know the story behind Lewiston. In the early 2000’s, Lewiston became a place where thousands of Somali immigrants located. This created a racially divided town especially given the politically charged issue of immigration on the national level. However, the soccer program at the high school in Lewiston has become a galvanizing and unifying force within the town. Through this program the town has become unified and learned to see one another as human beings. This didn’t happen overnight; rather it has taken years for this unity to develop.
At the center of the program’s success and the towns unification is the coach of the team, Mike McGraw. The news report I heard said, “Where many saw disparity because of the changing demographic, he saw possibility.” Mike recognized the gifts of the Somali kids as well as the hometown kids. He knew if he could get the team to play together, they would have something special. And by 2015, he had transformed a decent program into a championship program. This brought the whole community together.
As if a throw away statement, the report mentioned Mike had been the coach for over 30 years. It was halfway through his career when the immigration issues arose. As I listened to this, a couple thoughts came to me. One, imagine the fortitude and perseverance Coach Mike must have had. It took over 30 years for him to achieve his dream of creating a successful, top notch program. He never gave up on the idea of winning a championship. Secondly, when challenges presented themselves, Coach Mike folded them into achieving the vision set before him.
How often do we, when faced with a challenge, circumvent it or allow it to overtake us rather than use it to our advantage? Moreover, as Christians and even as a church, it is easy to get discouraged when progress seems slow or things don’t seem to change quickly. And yet, persistence and enduring hope will drive us toward God’s vision. May we have a vision for God’s future; and may it be so compelling, we won’t give up on it no matter the challenge we face.