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Lewiston, Maine: A New View from Amy Bass

Lewiston, Maine: A New View from Amy Bass

I’ve lived in Central Maine my whole life, and with that, I’ve always known Lewiston. Now, I know Lewiston.

Before, it was the unsafe, unmanageable “Dirty Lew,” a failing city whose only hope was the new Target being put in near Applebee’s. Most Mainer’s can attest to this: it’s a place you don’t ever really want to go; it’s a place you should avoid if you can.

I know, now, that these generalizations aren’t true. Lewiston is as much a home as is anywhere else – if you just zoom in, you can see it, too.

My English class read “One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game that Brought a Divided Town Together” by Amy Bass last month. The novel centers around Lewiston’s infamous soccer team, the 2015 Blue Devils, who championed their competition, Lewiston’s reputation, and the cultural differences that came with being primarily composed of Somali refugees. 

When Bass came to visit, I was ready. My mind was racing with questions as to how the city I’d discarded for so long could really be a place of joy, success, and community. I’d been missing out on perhaps one of the most interesting places in Central Maine, and most definitely had a lot to learn about its history, culture, and accomplishment in becoming a nationally ranked community for soccer, as well as an immigration hub for Somali refugees. 

Apart from this newfound interest in my home state, Bass gifted us with a myriad of anecdotes from her career as a writer and journalist. Always outline, she emphasized, sharing her experience planning for “One Goal,” and relating it to the essays we write as high school students. She told us that outlining is key to a successful story, and that you must know what you want to say before you say it, otherwise your message gets lost in the spontaneity of your words. 

These are two major things I learned from Bass, through her book and her visit to Kents Hill. For one, Lewiston is capable, and has as much potential and love as any other place in Maine. It, too, has the means for appreciation and interest. Two, always outline. Outlining allows for a soccer book to be about more than soccer; it allows for the connection and heart that any fiction novel could contain. It has allowed me, an unathletic Mainer who really had no interest in Lewiston or soccer, to be fully stunned and captivated by this story, and find interest in both.