Gloucester’s U10 Extreme (Soccer) Team lost a close one last Saturday at Danvers Indoor Sports. Following the match, parents from the opposing side yelled at our players and, after much ado, we were encouraged to “go back to our stinking fish city.” Aggressive, condescending and delivered to a crowd of young boys and parents who were gathering to celebrate the birthday of one of the players, this insult was jarring. After the initial shock, however, the incident inspired us to feel something important and enduring – intense pride in our hometown.
Gloucester is a special place. It means something to be from this island, on the edge of the continent, sometimes seemingly far from Boston and suburbs “up the line.” We love its natural beauty, its light and art, and the way it embraces characters of all kinds. We are proud of our fishing history and the continuing work ethic of our residents, which is evident across industries today. We recognize our socioeconomic and ethnic diversity as essential to our strength and future prosperity. Among our fans on Saturday, cheering on a sweet and talented group of 9 and 10-year-old boys, were a surgical assistant, a neuroscientist, a lobsterman, a communications strategist, attorneys, an office manager, a fitness coach, local business owners and a teacher, representing a broad range of ethnicities and including first-generation Americans. On the soccer sidelines, as in our city at large, diversity catalyzes empathy, strength, creativity and cohesion and results in something bigger – a community.
One does see Gloucester in our kids out on the soccer pitch. They play hard, have heart, focus on teamwork and celebrate and support each other. They are strong and spirited. They have grit. Fishermen – every one of them – and every one of us.
So, yes, we’ll happily return to our “fish city.” Gloucester. Beauport. Call it what you want. And we’ll see you at the playoffs!
Liisa Nogelo and Doug Kerr
This post appeared as a Letter to the Editor of the Gloucester Times on Saturday, April 4, 2016. We reprint it with the permission of the authors, Liisa Nogelo and Doug Kerr.