An athlete offers a reflection on the trials and tribulations of high school sports.
The subtitle of Castro’s debut book is an honest summation of her work, a thoroughly detailed account of her experiences in the small-minded, parochial world of high school sports—in her case, soccer. The author, now a college student, first tried and fell in love with the sport while in middle school in California; soccer then became the “center” of her universe. The decision to play the sport turned out to be a momentous one, and she eventually enrolled in Green Hills High School, which, as Castro writes, was “on the other side of town, “the rich side” as we called it.” At Green Hills, she encountered a different world, with multimillion-dollar homes and a “high school with an ocean view.” It was also, as she soon discovered in her experiences on the school’s soccer team, a world rife with cliques, helicopter parents, and strict hierarchies. In the course of her book, the author describes engaging in soccer fights, finding herself in a rivalry with her team’s upperclassmen, getting suspended, breaking her leg, and eventually transferring to a different school after a falling out with her coach. By the end of her story, her point is clear: The “youth athletic environment” has become overly “politicized and professionalized.” Another issue Castro encountered as a Latina player was the casual racism of her fellow teammates. But she displayed grit and determination throughout, crediting her father with teaching her to “work harder than everyone else with the same goal to get it.” At over 250 pages, the volume is a little too long given the scope of the author’s subject matter and should have been pared down. Still, as a real-life portrait of the politics of high school sports in suburban California, her book delivers an engrossing examination of class, race, and the hierarchies at the hearts of American high schools.
Readers interested in the drama, politics, and injustices of high school sports should find much to contemplate in this account.