Nov. 2—Lewiston football coach Jason Versey said that he and his coaching staff talk often to their players about being selfless, about not giving up, and about getting up more times than you fall.
The importance of sports and the many life lessons they offer are often talked about. But sometimes the evidence is difficult to find, as teams at all levels of all sports will do pretty much anything to win, and as professional and college leagues will do anything for television money, including tearing up and throwing away the souls of their games.
Other times the importance of sports is unavoidable, and it becomes not just an escape from reality but a place we turn for help healing and rebuilding.
Lewiston has needed both since Oct. 25, when a disturbed man killed 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar, and Maine joined the list of places that this century have learned that some of the most terrible things can, in fact, happen here.
Lewiston and its neighbor Auburn are grieving, confused and probably a little scared.
Sports have become an important part of their healing process. It now seems almost fortuitous that the Lewiston and Edward Little football teams were scheduled to play a football game against each other two days after the shootings. That game was postponed, along with all high school athletic events Thursday, Friday and Saturday last week.
Instead, the Battle of the Bridge football game was moved to Wednesday, exactly one week after the shootings.
The Lewiston-Edward Little rivalry became even more important than usual.
"It's bigger than football. This game's way bigger than football," Lewiston junior Joe Dube said.
Dube scored three touchdowns and the Blue Devils beat the Red Eddies 34-18. But it was the game itself that mattered most. Being there, whether on the field or in the crowd was most important. The Twin Cities being united in support of each other showed strength and resilience.
"I promise you, in five years, no one is going to remember the score, but they'll remember this event and how special it was," Versey said.
It's difficult to simply move on from 18 lives ending tragically in our town. A football game doesn't fix it. But sports can begin the process of healing, conquering our new fears and beginning to trust the world again. Our resilience is shown, partly, by returning to normal while also remembering, and hopefully learning and becoming better.
Sports gave Lewiston and Auburn, the Twin Cities separated by only a river, that chance Wednesday.
Another great thing about sports is they are a gift that keeps giving. Lewiston and Auburn will have another chance to unite Friday at 5 p.m., when the Blue Devils host the Red Eddies for a boys soccer regional semifinal.
Sports on TV: Thursday, November 2, 2023
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