Goal! The Boys from Little Mexico
With the Latino love of fútbol and the World Cup starting today, we thought it appropriate to highlight a newly released non-fiction book, The Boys from Little Mexico by Steve Wilson.
The book follows an all-Hispanic high school soccer team through one season. Along with the soccer action, the book delves into issues of immigration, education, and self-perception, Wilson said.
From the book description:
In 2005, Woodburn High’s Bulldogs, aka Los Perros, will start the season with eight undocumented students, three boys who speak almost no English, a midfielder groomed to play for a pro Mexican team, a goalkeeper living in his third foster home, and an Irish-descended white coach desperate to lead all of them to success. Watched over by a south Texas transplant—a surrogate father to half the squad—this band of brothers must learn to come together on the field and look after each other off it.
The player featured in this scene below — described and excerpted for the Tiki Tiki Blog by author Wilson — Octavio, is an undocumented Mexican immigrant who came to the U.S. at 14 to visit his father, then stayed. The scene begins after Octavio, a senior, has injured his knee, making him unable to play for the rest of the season, and forcing him to make some difficult decisions.
Excerpt, from The Boys of Little Mexico:
For Octavio, the knee injury meant more than just not being on the team. As he limped across campus on crutches, he knew that his hopes of going to college might be over, for how would he pay for school if not on an athletic scholarship? He began to wonder if he should bother trying to stay in the U.S. at all. Standing on the sidelines, watching the team practice during the following weeks, he thought about this a lot.
The pull that Mexico—that his family and familiar things—had on him had never left. Since he arrived in Oregon, he had thought about returning to Mexico every so often, usually when he felt low. He desperately wanted to go back for a visit, but without the right papers, returning to the U.S. was expensive and risky.
There was another reason for him not to leave the U.S. Her name was Anita.
Octavio had first seen Anita when the boys team returned from an away game his junior year. A varsity girls game was taking place, and Coach Flannigan urged the boys to head over to support the girls. The boys didn’t need to be told twice. As Octavio lined up along the fence with the rest of his teammates, he noticed a particularly cute midfielder, whose hair bounced as she ran. Later, he saw that she was a pretty good player.
Over the next couple of weeks, Octavio learned that this girl’s name was Anita, that she was not dating anyone, that she had been born in the U.S. to Mexican immigrants, and that she was a serious student. He approached his courtship of Anita the way he approached most things. He thought about it for a long time, doubting himself, watching her from a distance. His friends, Cheo especially, encouraged him to talk to her, but he wanted to do it right. He wanted to be a proper gentleman. It was wintertime before he took any action.
Like a nineteenth century bachelor, he wrote Anita a letter, put it in an envelope, and gave it to a mutual friend to hand to her. The friend, perhaps not understanding the importance of the document, passed it off to Anita with a dismissive, “here,” and walked away. Anita opened it, thinking it was from the boy who had just walked away.
The letter said:
You look like you are a good person. I would like to meet you and talk to you. Maybe we can be friends or even more than friends. We can meet and just let God decide.”
Anita, an adorable girl with a bright and easy smile, looked at it carefully. That’s really old-fashioned, she thought. Then she thought, who in the world is Octavio?
It took her a moment before she figured it out. For the past couple of months some friends had been telling her that there was a guy who liked her a lot, and she had asked them to point him out. When they did she looked at him closely, thinking, how does he know that he likes me if he has never spoken with me? Her friends had also told her that Octavio played on the varsity team, which Anita found weird, because she knew some people on the varsity team, and although she couldn’t go to all the games, she did see them in practice. She had never even noticed Octavio.
He’s not my type, she thought.
However, he had taken the time to write a nice letter, so she wrote back to him, suggesting that they meet and talk some time. A couple weeks later the two of them met by chance in the lunchroom and had a short conversation. Soon they were talking and texting every day.
What eventually won Anita over was Octavio’s old-fashioned nature, formed out of the stratified and oddly formal life of rural Mexico. He sent her flowers, gave her small gifts, approached her parents to request permission to go out with her. They spoke on the phone often over the summer between Octavio’s junior and senior year and by the start of the 2005 fall soccer season they were dating seriously and Anita had decided that Octavio was her type after all.
Octavio had left a serious girlfriend in Guanajuato when he came to America, had broken up with her rather than leave her not knowing when he would come back. He had missed her terribly, and had not been interested in another girlfriend for a while. Having found Anita, however, Octavio was reluctant to lose her. As he moped along the hallways and reluctantly watched practices, his heart tugged in two directions at once.
You can read more about the Boys from Little Mexico in the Oregonian, at Jared Montz Soccer and at the Amazon.com sale page.
Learn more about the book at the Boys website and Facebook fan page . Below is a promo video.