NORTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s been a lot said recently about us being a divided nation.
And even sports has been at the center of that conversation lately. But as WCCO’s David McCoy shows us, one of the most powerful things about sports is its unique ability to unite us.
And there might not be a greater example of that than in North St. Paul.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more diverse team than the boys soccer team at North St. Paul High School.
“We’re talking Somalia, Mexico, Venezuela. One of our best players right now is from Haiti,” assistant coach Matthew Cross said.
From Nepal, Ethiopia, Kenya and Guatemala, El Salvador, Thailand and Sierra Leone…
“So, everywhere. And then obviously one or two, three here from Minnesota,” Cross said.
The 22 kids on their roster come from 14 different countries on four different continents, speaking eight different languages. For most, English is their second or even third language.
It’s a point of pride on the Polars. People from so many different backgrounds, coming together as one.
“I learn a lot from those guys. I know they have the same story as me,” Kenlove Solon said.
“I mean I’ve learned some new words from their language and I’ve taught them a few things from English and yeah, it’s great,” Erik Kubiatowicz said.
And while you’d think it’d be a barrier to good communication on the field — and at times, they say, it is — it hasn’t held them back. North St. Paul is really good. And they say, their diversity is actually a big reason why.
“I can’t really explain it, I think it’s really, from us, like an emotional feeling we’ve seen that throughout the year. But I think it has a vast impact on how good we are,” Cross said.
“We love each other, and we care about each other,” Solon said.
“Just makes us a stronger bond, that’s not breakable,” Jose Lara Arias said.
“Obviously, this time in America is a bit rough. Stuff we hear on the bench, they know it. This team backs each other up, like they’re brothers,” Cross said.
If only everyone could follow the example set by a bunch of high school soccer players.
“I think it speaks volumes about these kids. It’s quite cool when a group of kids like this can come together and just create one team,” Cross said.
“Those guys are my family. And I love them so much,” Solon said.
North St. Paul took second place in its conference this season. It came to an end Tuesday night with a loss in the section quarterfinals.