For a few years, Martin Jacobson and I have tried to get our soccer teams together.
I coach the Staples High School boys varsity. He coaches Martin Luther King in New York City.
We’re a pretty decent Connecticut team. MLK is the 2-time defending NYC public schools champion. And they’ve won that title 14 of the last 17 years.
This year, our schedules meshed for a pre-season scrimmage.
On Sunday, the King guys and their coaches came to Westport by train. Our parents met them at the station, and drove them to Staples. A large crowd enjoyed a very competitive match. The visitors pulled away for the win, but the play was tough, good and fun.
Afterward, the MLK players and staff piled back into parents’ cars. At Compo Beach, Staples’ Barbecue Club — yes, there is such an organization, and they’re great — prepared a feast.
The food was fantastic. The soccer match was tremendous. But the highlight for both teams might have been the impromptu volleyball tournament that sprang up.
Players from both squads — the city school, and the suburban one — divided themselves evenly, into 4 teams. They took over both volleyball courts. And for a solid hour — until a sudden rainstorm — they played, laughed and high-fived together.
Back at the train station, the MLK coach and I pledged to make this an annual tradition.
I don’t want to make more of this than it is. It was just an afternoon mixing strong competition with holiday weekend relaxation.
But as I drove home — and as more than a dozen Staples soccer players texted me with thanks for an “awesome” day — I had 3 thoughts:
- Sports are a wonderful way to bring people together.
- Kids are kids, wherever they live.
- Westport, Connecticut may not be representative of America. But neither is Ferguson, Missouri.