East high doesn’t have a girls soccer team.
Neither does Wilson Magnet or School of the Arts. In fact, none of the Rochester city school has a girls soccer team.
Due to dwindling participation, all of the city schools got together and decided to do something different this year.
They combined all the girls that wanted to play soccer into one program.
Twenty-seven girls from eight different schools playing on one team.
What could go wrong?
“To be honest, me and my assistant coaches were like, ‘is this going to work’,” said head coach Nicole Hercules.
“It was a little odd because we weren’t sure how we were going to get along,” added senior captain, Ashira Fischer-Wachspress.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God’, I gotta play with some people that I actually really hate,” joked Esther Ngo-Oum. “I honestly thought I was going to have to fight someone.”
When asked if there was ever a fight, her teammates laughed and said “Esther says that all the time.”
There were no punches thrown. Instead they just talked and got to know one other.
“The first day of practice, there was just this feeling. This positivity. This amazing energy and I was like, ‘Oh this is going to work’,” smiled Hercules.
“After just meeting them, actually having a conversation, you get to see a different side of people,” said Ngo-oum.
Enemies from rival schools and teams quickly became friends.
“Everyone kinda got to know each other and respect each other as soccer players and we all get along really well now,” added Fischer-Wachspress.
Katherine Traver laughed off the hint of any lingering animosity. “We all realized we would be fine and bonded really fast.”
“It’s like a distant cousin,” said Penda Camera. “You don’t know them until you get to know them and then you’re all friends.”
Nobody on the team could fully explain how twenty-seven teenage girls from eight rival schools with different personalities, races and religions could all come together. They said it just simply happened.
One of the captains is a foreign exchange student from Norway and says that’s the beauty of soccer.
“You can go to a beach in Africa or you can play soccer anywhere. It’s just a game. It doesn’t really matter how you are. You don’t even have to know the language,” said Amanda Faetten.
“These kids… they make me better because I learn from them. I sit and I watch them and I’m like ‘if everyone in the world could be like these girls, our world would be a better place’,” smiled Hercules.