More Than a Game

My second book, More Than a Game, was released on May 21!

Here’s where you can buy it (while you’re at it, pick up a copy of my first one, The Last 18, too:

Amazon

Kindle

GoodReads

If you could do one, or all, of three things, I would be immensely appreciative:

  • Buy the book!
  • If you don’t want to buy the book, you would be helping more than you know if you could at least review it on Amazon and GoodReads, taking it on faith that it’s actually somewhat decent.
  • Tell your friends to buy it and review it!

FINALCOVER

Synopsis of More Than a Game

Basketball and life are one of the same in the hoops-mad town of Gaithersburg. And for good reason. The Covenant Prep girls team is one of the best in the state, led by the mighty Lyla Storm, who may be the best player in the country. She has the college offers and records to prove it. The boys, too, are championship-caliber, having finished second in the state just a year ago while returning the majority of their top players. Both could realistically win the title.

And then, quick as a hiccup, devastating as an Earthquake, the town’s world comes crashing down. Prep’s legendary basketball coach, Bill Stottlemyer, passes away, leaving his son, Kevin, the team’s star point guard, wondering if it’s really all worth it, playing this game. He couldn’t play, not without Coach.

The community is shaken – and then shaken again, when Tara French, a player on the girl’s team, is hit by a car, leaving  Lyla, her best friend, wondering, too, if it’s really all worth it. She couldn’t play, not without Tara.

The town couldn’t disagree. How could they ask its two young stars to play a game in the wake of such tragedy? But they needed something, anything, to provide an escape from the specters that hung over Gaithersburg. Basketball became their collective source of refuge. So play they did, in a season that became less about the wins and losses, points and box scores, and more about life, and how sports can so often help us get through it.

And the simple sport of basketball became far more than a game.

The story behind the book

The story behind this book is inspired by events that are as real as the air we breathe and the computer or tablet or screen you’re reading this on. And when I say inspired by, I do not mean based on, for the storylines between what was real and what was fictionalized in the pages of More Than a Game are vastly different. But the seed of this narrative is very real indeed.

I was in my second year at a weekly newspaper headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., covering boys basketball. As the boys basketball writer, one of my obligations was to write at least one story on every team in our coverage area, which was roughly 100 schools. It was a task that was neither small nor enviable. If it were up to me, I’d have covered national powerhouse DeMatha Catholic 30 times and called it a season. Fortunately, it was not up to me, and as the season was winding down, I had to cover a game between two private schools with a combined enrollment of about 500. It was not good basketball. But I stumbled upon one of the most unforgettable stories I have seen in sports.

When your school is that tiny, your community becomes unbelievably close, where nobody locks their front doors and everybody knows their neighbor’s dog’s birthday. So I’m sitting in the stands, covering this game, and I notice that the entire student section is wearing a pink shirt that red “Mama Bear.” Inevitably, I asked the coach afterwards about the shirts, and he explained that his wife had recently passed away. Breast cancer. This being perhaps the most close-knit community in the state of Maryland, the passing of the wife of the basketball coach was no small deal, and they rallied, rocking those pink shirts every single game. Meanwhile, her son was the point guard and best player on the team, which was likely going to make the conference championship. I saw a story brewing beyond a simple gamer.

And then tragedy struck again, and it was abrupt and quick as a hiccup. A player on the girls team had been hit by a car. She was dead on impact. In the same week, this community had to bury two of its loved ones. The girls stopped playing, and the boys debated doing the same – how could they play a simple game in the wake of such tragedy? But the girl’s parents wouldn’t have it. Play, they urged the teams, so we can begin to move on. Basketball is going to be our vehicle. The rest of the season was a magical ride, culminating in an unlikely pair of conference title berths. I won’t reveal who won and who lost,or if they both won or both lost. You’ll have to read to find out.

Now: How did this become a book? I wrote a massive feature on it, maybe 2,000 words or so – this is massive in newspapers, particularly weeklies – but I still felt as if something was missing. A feature in a barely-read newspaper wasn’t enough. This could be a book. Fiction, for sure. Saguaro Books had just offered to publish my first book, The Last 18, so I began brainstorming how to fictionalize these events and write my second. And over the next two years, I outlined and wrote and outlined and wrote some more, loosely inspired by the aforementioned story, twisting details and adding plot twists, creating characters I fell in love with and hope you do, too.

Sports have a power behind them I cannot explain, though in this book I attempt to do so. Follow along this site for updates regarding release date, giveaways and other promos for More Than a Game. 

Send me pictures of you reading More Than a Game!IMG_4753.JPG.jpeg