WHILE THE BAND members from Shaw Junior High were packing for their march to Philadelphia, another outstanding group of D.C. school students marched to a victory as satisfying in its beginnings as it was dramatic in its finish: after a do-it-themselves season in which a handful of determined students helped give soccer serious standing as a sport in the city's public schools, Wilson High School captured the Interhigh Soccer Championship in a marvelously close and well-played match with a crack team from Bilingual School. But how the Wilson Tigers got there--and who they are--is part of this happy ending:
Begin with about 20 students representing 15 nationalities, add a common body language of soccer and discover that the first challenge in the D.C. school system is to get much more than passing attention for anything like organized soccer. With a lot of ad hoc help, six teams materialized around the city, making do with slim budgets, impromptu car shuttles and, at Wilson, imagination and self-teaching when it came to coaching.
Who would coach? Officially, it had to be a teacher--and the fledgling Tigers found a willing history teacher with a baseball background, Elbert Nixon, to assume the duty. For assistant coach and field general, the team tapped a senior, George Lozano, and agreed to abide by and respect his decisions about who would play when, and how.
The rest is amazing: going into Tuesday's championship, an undefeated season. And on that sloppy field in a steady drizzle, no score by either team in regulation time; then two 5-minute overtimes and still no score; then a 10-minute sudden- death period--and no score. That led to a gripping contest of penalty kicks--which, after the usual five shots, was tied, 4-all. Then sudden- death kicks--and Wilson took it. Score one for the Tigers--and one for youthful initiative in the city's high schools.