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Spirit of Football

Dean Tae '24

Sep 16, 2022

On September 9, Mercersburg Academy welcomed the Spirit of Football, a nonprofit group that uses the universal language of soccer to promote and teach their values through a special piece of sports equipment that they affectionately call “The Ball.” Dedicated to the initiatives of climate action, gender equality, and fairplay, The Ball has traveled around the globe, stopping in more than 25 countries thus far. As they travel, they invite supporters to share the commitment to their initiatives by heading and signing The Ball. Even before Mercersburg community members lined up to take their turn at a head pass, The Ball had well over one thousand signatures.

The Spirit of Football began their work in 2002, attending the Men’s FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, bringing The Ball with them. These upcoming trips to the 2022 Men’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the 2023 Women’s FIFA Worldcup in Australia and New Zealand will mark The Ball’s sixth journey around the world.

Concurrent with the visit of The Ball, Mercersburg hosted the annual Nancy Horton Heefner Show. The Historical Society initiated the show in commemoration of Nancy Horton Heefner, its former vice president and a member of the Mercersburg Women’s Club. The was the first show since 1919 to be held in person. The focus of this year’s show, One Ball, One World, drew inspiration from the initiatives of the Spirit of Football. Artwork submissions were open to all artists, both those from campus and the larger community. Leah Willis ‘24 was one of many to submit her artwork. “It was a very unique and quite intriguing show to participate in,” Willis said.

Sydney Caretti, arts teacher and Director of Galleries, worked tirelessly for several months to bring One Ball, One World to Mercersburg Academy after Dr. Karli Richards ‘97, a Chambersburg orthopedist and a graduate of Mercersburg Academy, referenced The Ball during one of their appointments. Richards currently serves as the ambassador for The Ball in the United States. “The altruistic nature of the mission of Spirit of Football and their initiatives is connected with the Green Team and Community Engagement,” said Caretti. Aiming to call attention to meat consumption, the Green Team worked with the dining hall staff to serve vegan shepherd’s pie for lunch last Friday. Community Engagement met with Spirit of Football at a Dreams for Kids DC event over the weekend and played soccer with disabled youth.

The messages of both One Ball, One World and the Nancy Horton Heefner show fit seamlessly together to offer a unique show centered around gender equality, climate justice, and fairplay, inviting members of the community to come together to consider Mercersburg Academy’s values, Hard Work, Fair Play, Clean Life.

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