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.

Staples soccer players, including Nate Argosh (left) and Kenji Goto, played against New York City powerhouse Martin Luther King HS. (Photo/Kim Lake).

Staples soccer players, including Nate Argosh (left) and Kenji Goto, played against New York City powerhouse Martin Luther King HS. (Photo/Kim Lake).

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.

Afterward, players from both teams mixed and matched for an impromptu volleyball tournament.

Players from both teams mixed and matched for an impromptu volleyball tournament.

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.


31 responses to “MLK Meets SHS

  1. Cheryl McKenna Kritzer

    Wonderful thoughts and I wish I was at Compo this past Sunday to witness !
    Was the soccer match taped for review to use for coaching?

  2. This email just made me happy as I head off to school to meet my new Kindergarten class. Thank you:)

  3. Quite a wonderful experience for your readers to hear about!

  4. Bob Selverstone

    Nice job — as usual — Dan.

  5. Dan, you are making this world a better place! What a fantastic day. Can’t wait to come out and watch the boys play.

    • Thanks, Robin! Home opener is next Tuesday (Sept. 9) vs. St. Joe’s. We’re also home that Thursday (Sept. 11) vs. Wilton. Both games start at 4 p.m. See you on The Hill!

  6. awesome Dan

  7. In the immortal word of Bill Murray, “Baby steps!” Great job Dan and to everyone in NY and Staples. .

  8. Awesome. I’ve read about and admired Martin Jacobson for years. So great to get these two incredible programs and coaches together.

  9. Very Cool Dan.

  10. Thanks so much, Dan. I KNOW that moment will resonate within every one of those kids (and you, the big kid) for eternity. My first summer past Staples graduation in ’66 was spent on a kibbutz in northern Israel. One early evening on a beach near Tel Aviv, a few of my fellow-kibbutzniks and I met some other kids and fell into a game of soccer together, then volleyball (must be something about those two sports). We had an awesome, athletic, childish, frolicking time, fraught with laughter and brotherhood, the likes of which I’ll never forget. And that was 48 years ago. I remember it as though it were an hour ago We were Jews and Palestinians, boys having a testosteronical (well, it’s a word now) blast in the soft, hot Israeli sand. It felt meaningful then, and so natural, unencumbered by religious or political ramifications. So, thanks, Dan, for triggering those indelible, life-changing memories and for starting a magnificent tradition and profound bond between Staples and MLK. Their namesake would’ve been proud, indeed. It’ll be worth the trip down from Vermont to see next-year’s scrimmage and to watch the friendship unfold on the pitch. Yet another lesson kids can and must teach us.

  11. Luciano Morelli

    Great job Dan!

  12. Dan – I remember running into a German (I think) man at an airport lounge who played soccer in an exchange program in Westport. I believe you wrote a story about that. Sports truly does bring people together. Thank you for your leadership in pulling this through.

  13. Beautiful!

  14. Sounds like it was a fun and worthwhile event, Dan. I hope you can make it an annual event. Did they have any serious discussion – like for Westport kids to understand what it means to be black in America? If Westport kids could begin to understand what white priviliege gives them, that would be huge! Maybe it won’t happen on the field or at the bbq, but maybe it could happen during the year in social media exchanges?

    • Definitely not a discussion for that event. But definitely a discussion at other times. Some of the best times we have as a team are when issues like this come up — on a bus, at a team dinner or other random times. It’s a process, for sure. THANKS for raising this important issue!

  15. Dan, great story. Bullet three is the kicker that brings it all home

  16. On your third remark, Dan, Peter Coy writes an interesting article in Bloomberg Businessweek on “Race, Class, and the Future of Ferguson”.

    p.s. Good luck to the Wrecker booters!

  17. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Wow…what a story and what a day to have lived with those two teams of players. Thanks, Dan for making this happen and having it be such a positive event for all involved. You are the man, Dan!!

  18. What a great write-up this is! Those last sentiments were spot on.

  19. Estelle T. Margolis

    Thank you, Dan. You know you did something both brilliant and beautiful.
    Would that all the towns in the USA brought kids together like you just did.
    There is a camp called “Seeds of Peace” that brings Jews and Arab kids
    together. My hope is that these kids, both from the camp and from your wonderful day, are the future leaders of their countries.

  20. Let’s thank Coach Jacobson, too.

  21. Truly awesome Dan! And your last 3 points…is as it should be. Hope you’re still at Staples when my boys get there!

  22. Dan, great column and get-together. Makes me feel optimistic about the future.

  23. Again, let’s thank Coach Jacobson and his team, too.
    Otherwise, the message here is lost.

  24. What a wonderful experience for everybody !!! Thanks to you and Coach Jacobson for putting it together. And thanks to you, Dan, for writing about it.

  25. Great job Dan! It’s what athletics and Staples Soccer is all about. Wish I was there to watch what I’m sure was a top quality match. Best of luck this season!

  26. Deb Holliday Kintigh, Staples '64

    ………….and, Dan, THAT’S what it’s all about!
    Loved your post, as always ~

  27. i just commented on your fb page that i went to my first SHS varsity soccer game and this was it! so fun. i had no idea it was such an important game. now i wish i followed the players to the volleyball court.