Readers interested in the drama, politics, and injustices of high school sports should find much to contemplate in this...

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THE BUBBLE

EVERYTHING I LEARNED AS A TARGET OF THE POLITICAL, AND OFTEN CORRUPT, WORLD OF YOUTH SPORTS

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.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5439-4585-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2018

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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