L'Etoile du Nord
The L’Étoile Du Nord (Star of the North) program presented by Bell Bank was introduced earlier this season, recognizing community members who embody the core values of the club. MNUFC is resilient, inclusive and dedicated and values passion, teamwork and respect and through this program hopes to highlight people making a difference behind those values at halftime of every home match this season.
Esera Tuaolo is a former NFL player, national recording artist and advocate for a number of causes and was named Minnesota United’s first L’Etoile Du Nord honoree at halftime of its first home match of the 2018 MLS season. He is a spokesperson for Firefighters for Healing and founded the Hate is Wrong Foundation, which fosters diversity in sports and anti-bullying among youth.
Bryan Duffey is Minnehaha Academy’s assistant boys’ soccer coach. He was injured in the Minnehaha Academy explosion in August 2017 and lost his leg as a result of the injuries. Despite that life-changing event, Duffey persevered to continue coaching the boys team that fall and was back on the sidelines leading by example on and off the field. He exemplifies the value of resiliency, inclusivity and dedication and we are proud to honor him.
Will Pace is a staff sergeant of the Bravo Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion and has been a member of the Minnesota National Guard since 2001, joining immediately after the September 11th attack. In his 17 years of service, he has been called to state active duty on a number of occasions to fight fires and floods and in 2017 he was called to duty in support of Hurricane Harvey. Pace and a crew of 12 other Minnesotans flew two CH-47 Chinooks from Minnesota to the Houston area, bringing technical and medical supplies to Texas. The Minnesota Chinook crews worked hard delivering food and water to areas in need and Pace played a tremendous role in that effort.
Mary Hernandez is a long-time resident of Shakopee and an incredible leader in her community. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Esperanza, co-founder of the Shakopee Diversity Alliance and an at-large member of the Shakopee Community Education Advisory Council. Hernandez is a passionate advocate for racial and economic equality for all Minnesotans.
Maria Alfaro is a lunch server at Eden Prairie High School and a dedicated mother of three daughters from Bloomington. She is selfless and optimistic and describes her favorite part of motherhood as the time she has spent with her children and family.
Pete Morin is a Saint Paul resident and serves as a dedicated volunteer with Keystone Community Services in the Midway community. He has been a volunteer with the organization for nearly 10 years, contributing over 3,300 hours to food shelves and supporting those in need.
Nick Huso is a Senior Chief in the US Navy and has been enlisted for nearly 17 years and counting. Nick has been on three separate tours to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, and East Africa. While not on active duty, Nick works at Rochester’s Mayo Clinic as an MRI Technologist. A resident of Kasson Minnesota, Nick is kept plenty busy by his wife and two sons.
On such an overwhelming and special night for the Minnesota United Community, Minnesota United Midfielder Collin Martin, awarded Dot Belster with the L’Etoile du Nord award. Don has left a footprint in the LGBTQ+ community and has been the Executive Director of Twin Cities Pride for almost a decade. The Anoka native, has spent her time leading the effort on creating the largest annual free LGBTQ+ pride celebration in the United States. Dot’s years of commitment to better the community through outreach programs and volunteering has allowed her to be an expert in inclusiveness. Dot embodies the values of MNUFC, among them inclusiveness, in truly invaluable ways.
At the team’s Salute to Freedom match against Toronto FC last week, Minnesota United honored Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Jason Bergum with the L’Étoile Du Nord award at halftime. Bergum returned from a 160-day tour — his fourth — of Southwestern Asia this past February. As an active service member for 23 years, Bergum has worked to connect deployed service members with school children back in the United States as pen pals to help them cope with the effects of being away from home. Bergum also volunteers as a youth soccer coach and Cub Scout leader, plus serves on the Board of Directors of the Mac-Groveland Community Council. His commitment to his professional and personal communities embodies the kind of dedication, passion and respect that Minnesota United strives for.
Evan Hochstein was recently awarded Minnesota United’s L’Etoile Du Nord for his work teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to young adults in Minnesota. Hochstein has contributed more than 1,000 volunteer hours and worked as a mentor to students studying to be leaders in the tech field in the years to come. For Hochstein, it’s important for young people to develop the critical thinking skills that will help them to become innovators, educators and leaders. Currently, he’s in the process of teaching hundreds of students how to use 3D printing technology.
Following last Sunday’s 5-1 win over LAFC, Minnesota United hosted a match between its Unified Team and the South Sioux City Unified Partners team from Nebraska. Special Olympics launched the Unified soccer program last year to bring together athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities on a single team. Two members of the Unified team from Orono High School, Sam Geffre and Will Larson, were recognized with the L’Eotile Du Nord award at halftime, presented by MNUFC CEO Chris Wright. Will and Sam are exceptional examples of acceptance and inclusivity both on and off the field. Their work with Special Olympics is leading the community of Orono in working to end the stigma around people with disabilities.
Edwin Adricula was handed the L’Etoile du Nord pennant for his hard work with the United Heroes League. Adricula holds the title of Vice President of Operations, where he and his team make it possible for military children to access free equipment for camps and special events, plus financial assistance for registration fees and other costs associated with sports. Adricula has served in the National Guard for 24 years and currently resides in Hastings.
September is Kick Childhood Cancer month in MLS and Minnesota United named 12-year-old Mia Volpe the club’s honorary L’Etoile Du Nord recipient for their September 22 game against Portland Timbers FC. Mia, who has conquered 14 rounds of chemotherapy while keeping a positive outlook on life, was joined by Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor and MNUFC goalkeeper Matt Lampson. Lampson the LampStrong Foundation to help children and their families get through cancer treatment and a team of LampStrong heroes stood behind Mia, supporting the Lakeville native who plans on playing for the Eclipse Soccer Club this fall. Mia’s continuing efforts to battle through adversity are an inspiration for everyone who gets to meet her.
Seven-year-old Landon Freeman was honored as Minnesota United’s L’Etoile Du Nord recipient for his dedication to soccer’s power to bring people together. In an essay, he talked about how everyone from his neighborhood comes together to play soccer and how he’s met other kids from different schools through the sport. The Lakeville native loves watching YouTube videos of famous players and trying to replicate their moves. Landon has made lifelong friends through the game of soccer in and around the Lakeville community.
A role model and community leader, Hector Reyes received the L’Étoile Du Nord award for his continued involvement in expanding the game of soccer for all. Hector created the Twin Cities Soccer League, which aims to provide the highest quality soccer league experience in the state of Minnesota. Throughout his involvement with this league, Hector encourages Minnesota’s low income and amateur youth soccer players throughout the Latino community to make a positive impact. Hector built the Twin Cities Soccer League on a core set of values which replicates Minnesota United’s, aiming to evolve the game of soccer in our community by bettering one another and being as transparent and inclusive as possible.
The final L’Etoile Du Nord award of the 2018 season was given to the incredible supporters groups of Minnesota United. The charitable arms of True North Elite and the Dark Clouds, Keepers of the North and Silver Lining, respectively, have contributed more than 3,000 hours of community service this year. They have partnered with organizations like The Sanneh Foundation, Somali American Youth Enrichment Club, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and Special Olympics Minnesota. Through their charitable work, these groups have been able to enrich the community while spreading their love and energy for the game of soccer. These branches of support believe in taking care of the communities that welcome them and their team.