Warren St. John, author of Outcasts United, the book chosen for freshmen New Student Orientation (NSO) this past summer, spoke at the Fuller Arts Center Monday night to over 100 members of the Springfield College community.
St. John talked about his inspiration for the book and the refugee soccer team it was based on.
The book chronicles the bond between a coach and her team of teenage soccer players in Clarkston, Ga., who are united through sport and a common goal of success.
St. John first heard of the team through a mutual friend and was immediately intrigued, ultimately writing a best seller. In the book, St. John told of Clarkston’s transformation from a sleepy southern town to a multicultural Mecca comprised of refugees from dozens of countries.
When asked her opinion of the book, freshman Mackenzie Moreau replied, “It’s a real eye opener. It reminds us not to judge anyone, especially while starting fresh in a new school.”
The topic of new beginnings was evident throughout, as St. John reminded the audience that, “what is comforting is not the best outlet.”
He paralleled the experiences of the refugees to those of the typical college freshman, highlighting that both must forge their own path, despite the unfamiliar.
Outcasts United stresses the power of persistence, exhibiting the triumphs made achievable by the hard work of the soccer players and the residents of Clarkston.
The formerly predominantly Caucasian town of Clarkston now hosts refugees from 55 countries in its local high school.
St. John’s story of the “fugees,” as they are known, is in fact so popular that over 40 colleges have required it as part of their mandated freshmen literature. Despite a busy touring schedule, St. John still keeps in contact with the players and continues to support them in their endeavors.
Erica Scarpa may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org