It is tough to get anything significant done by yourself. It is more myth than reality – that of the solo conqueror and individual doing anything important, much less great.
Teams, teamwork and teammates accomplish the big stuff.
You build companies as a team. Effective and responsive government is the result of teamwork. Teammates working closely and cooperatively feed the hungry – and beat down hunger. Teamwork educates and enlightens the ignorant. Teams protect and conserve the environment.
Teams design cars and construct buildings.
The epitome and most exceptional exercise of teamwork, of course, is our armed forces which protect and defend our republic.
Soccer teams win soccer games.
Soccer teams can also fight and wage war against cancer.
That’s what the Oliver Ames High School boys’ soccer program has been doing over the past two years.
This year, the OA boys’ soccer team, with an assist from their Tiger girl soccer counterparts, and also members of the OA boys' and girls’ cross-country squad, again took up a sacred cause, participating in the 16th annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk – and through their participation raising money to defeat the disease.
The walk, which includes a five-mile and two-mile course, starts and finishes at the DCR Hatch Shell along the Charles River in Boston.
As evidenced by the team’s fundraising for the cause, it is a competitive and a winning group not only on the field, but in a far more important and consequential arena.
Already, the team has raised in the neighborhood of $13,000 for the 2011 walk – and the fundraising campaign does not finish up until the end of this month.
Aaron Millman, the senior co-captain of this year’s Tiger soccer squad, was the genesis of the team’s involvement with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
“When I was a sophomore, I told Coach [John] Barata that I had to miss a practice because I was walking in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk,” said Millman. “Before I was born, my grandmother, my mother’s mother, died of breast cancer, and since then my family has been involved and participating in the walk.”
Coach Barata was moved by and admired his player’s volunteering in the walk, and last year he decided that the team should get involved in the walk as well – and he looked to Aaron Millman to play a lead role in getting everyone on board.
“At first, I think many of the guys didn’t really understand why we were involved in the walk,” said Millman. “But they soon became committed and worked hard – and we were successful. I also think the experience brought the team together and made us a stronger unit.”
For sure, this was a soccer team that could score and defend – and which could also raise money.
In 2010, the OA team signed up to compete in the “High School Challenge,” a fundraising effort within the bigger Making Strides walk. These Tigers met the challenge, finishing third among the 70 schools in the category, and raising more than $10,000.
This year, the Tigers are looking to expand on last year's success.
“It was a total team effort, from players to parents to boosters to the school to the individual and corporate sponsors – it was wonderful,” said Coach Barata. “People worked together – and our results are testament to just how strong and caring is the community of Easton.”
Barata noted that last year OA had about 40 soccer players participating in the walk – and that was it. Barata further explained that first-place Ursuline Academy, which raised a little more than $20,000, had 400 students participating, and second-place Catholic Memorial, which also raised more than $20,000, had 300 students involved.
At this year's walk, its organizers had OA soccer players up on stage to receive recognition for the team's 2010 effort.
OA soccer seems committed to making a tradition of its work on behalf of and commitment to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
On Monday night, at Muscato Stadium, in its game against league rival, North Attleboro, the OA boys’ soccer team (with support from OA High School, the community and North Atttleboro players and fans) continued its fight against breast cancer. Gate receipts for the game were donated to Making Strides, and the players wore pink socks and pink armbands (with pink being the color of the fight against breast cancer) .
North Attleboro players showed solidarity and a commitment to the cause, wearing pink shoelaces – and some even frosted their hair pink.
“We are going to continue to raise money and awareness; we aren’t stopping,” said Barata. “Later this month, we may have a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraiser at the new Evolution Sports Performance facility on Rte. 138 in South Easton.”
Coach Barata reiterated how the fundraising success of the OA team was the result of many people and groups.
Coach Barata cited the generosity of Easton Youth Soccer, and We Got Soccer, a soccer apparel and equipment retailer located in Foxboro, and a company that has made Making Strides Against Breast Cancer its signature cause.
OA beat North Attleboro, 1-0, on Monday night, improving its season record to 5-1-2.
The players are working well together to beat the soccer competition.
But the far bigger and more important story is how the players are working well together to help defeat an adversary far more formidable than any they will ever face between the lines or on the surface of any playing field.
Then again, the passion and hard work and love of and behind Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is devoted to a world in which someday breast cancer won't be considered much of an opponent at all.