Author: Ali Phaneuf
After a one-year hiatus amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, the New England Revolution Unified team is excited to be stepping back on the field this Saturday. But for one athlete in particular, this year is still proving to be slightly unconventional.
Jimmy Keith has played for the Revs Unified team for six years, and this year is like no other for the seasoned athlete. On Saturday, September 18th the Revs Unified team will play against the Andover Stars Unified team at Gillette Stadium. And for Jimmy, this means playing against a team that is coached by his dad, Doug Keith.
''It's gonna be the Keiths against the Keiths," said Doug. ''It should be a ton of fun. We're just thrilled that we're having it in person this year and I can't wait."
Jimmy is also happy to be back on the field, even if it means playing against his dad.
''I think it's going to be bittersweet because I really want them to win but I also want me to win," said Jimmy. ''It's definitely going to be awkward at the dinner table."
So, how did this all come about? Due to the lingering impacts of the pandemic, the Revs Unified team is unable to travel and compete against other Unified professional teams. Instead of cancelling yet another season, Special Olympics Massachusetts reached out to Kathy Keith, Jimmy's mom and Doug's wife, who runs multiple soccer teams at different levels and asked if she'd be willing to put together an All Star team to play against the Revs Unified team at Gillette.
''I've got my husband playing on the Andover Stars and my son playing on the New England Revolution, so there's a little bit of competition for them, but also a conflict for me," said Kathy.
Doug has been Jimmy's coach for years, and this will be the first time he actually coaches against his son, so the tension and rivalry in the Keith household leading up to the big match has been merciless.
''I've been getting in my dad's head for the past 23 years, so I'm feeling confident that my team is going to win," said Jimmy. ''I'm not that worried about beating my dad."
Jimmy's favorite part about soccer is meeting new people and making friends, so it comes as no surprise that while the rivalry is growing between him and his dad, he sings a different tune when it comes to playing against his friends, ''I'm just going to be ecstatic and really happy for them."
And with the big game quickly approaching, Jimmy and Doug have been wondering who Kathy is going to actually cheer for on the 18th. Luckily, she was willing to reveal that inside scoop to Special Olympics Massachusetts.
''I'll be rooting for the Revolution . . . Go Revs!" said Kathy. ''I mean everybody wants to win, but it's all about the fun and being part of Special Olympics."
Video: Erin Fish
Update from the game on September 18th:
While both teams battled for most of the first half, athlete Sam Spinney of the NE Revs slid in a goal with a few minutes remaining on the clock, bringing the score to 1-0. Due to thunder and lightning, the remainder of the match was unfortunately cancelled. While Doug Keith claims the Andover Stars is a second-half team, I guess we'll never know what could have happened to the Revs 1-0 lead had the rain held out!