Category Archives: Sports

Establishing Presence: A Chip Fullerton/Annie Smith Sports Novel – Book Three by T.L. Hoch

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Establishing PresenceWhat is the purpose of a softball game? Is it the same as a basketball game? Is there a difference between the two? Is winning the goal of both sports? Is winning everything? Can you learn more than the techniques of a competition by not winning?

Between the junior and senior years of high school, a few exceptional female athletes are invited to assist at a sports camp for women’s softball and basketball. Annie, Chip, and Jenny are from the small town of Reston, Texas and joined by Cheryl while rooming together at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Cheryl’s uncle is in charge of the camp and is thrilled to have these exceptionally talented high-school seniors joining her.

The four girls enthusiastically work with the younger campers teaching them the technicalities and techniques needed to improve their skills. Including becoming better players, they also quickly learn that building their game skills are as necessary as building their personal and interpersonal skills.

Mighty Mary by Tony Scaringe

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Mighty MaryMighty Mary is a fascinating work of fiction, based on real-life events, that encompasses the sport of international yacht racing and the first all-women’s team to vie for the America’s Cup in 1995. Tony Scaringe expertly portrays the obstacles faced by the women who were breaking new ground by competing in a male dominated sport. Readers gain an inside perspective into the concerted undertaking and unwavering commitment necessary in order for this momentous event to take place.

The prologue, chapter and section headings, and epilogue are integral to the storyline. The prologue provides readers with a brief history of the America’s Cup and introduces Dan Cook, the motivator behind the establishment of the women’s team. Interviews with Cook are skillfully interwoven into this story that exemplifies a noteworthy occasion in history. The chapter headings, as well as section headings within chapters, do not interrupt the flow of the story. Specifically, the headings are an invaluable source of information by giving readers each chapter’s theme, along with making it easy to follow changes in locations, events, and timeframes. The epilogue includes uplifting and appreciative comments in recognition of not only the women’s team but also their advocates. Moreover, these remarks are made by men who are instrumental in changing the perception of women’s ability to compete against men in yacht racing. In addition, the epilogue includes a meeting with the press in 1995. This encounter brings into question whether or not a man may have negatively affected a key performance.

Dancing with Death: An Epic and Inspiring Travel Adventure by Jean-Philippe Soulé

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dancing with DeathOffering an intensely evocative and aptly titled narrative, Dancing with Death both guides and inspires, armchair adventurers as well as venturesome travelers to the jungles, seas, people and cultures of the world’s “roads” less traveled within the beautiful panoramas of Latin America. Co-authored by co-adventurers Jean-Philippe Soulé and Luke Shullenberger, this dynamic read memorializes not only their experiences during their expansive sea kayaking journey, but also serves to help bring awareness to the cultures and history of the seldom seen or noted native peoples they encountered.

From the start, the story treats the mind to the emotions and visages entwined in this thrilling narrative which memorializes the unforgettable and awe-inspiring expedition by sea touted as a one of a kind undertaking. Author, guide, and adventurer Jean-Philippe Soulé accompanied by fellow adventurer and able friend Luke Shullenberger find themselves and their kayaks sorely tested by weather, tides and their bodies as they paddled thousands of miles braving often life-threatening conditions including near drowning, malaria, shark attacks, crocodiles, guerillas, armed bandits and corruption during their one of a kind undertaking. The overall journey spanning three years, 3000 miles and seven countries included Baja, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The expedition fully titled as the Central America Sea Kayaking Expedition 2000, but also known as the CASKE2000, was a quest intended as an effort to connect with, learn about and preserve in writing the history of the self-reliant, indigenous peoples and their respect for and relationship with the earth.

In the Time of Bobby Cox: The Atlanta Braves, Their Manager, My Couch, Two Decades, and Me by Lang Whitaker

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In the Time of Bobby CoxThis is a pretty interesting book especially if you happen to be a baseball fan and precisely an Atlanta Braves fan. Basically Whitaker has told the story of Bobby Cox and his journey as manager of the Braves through the most exciting period of baseball in Atlanta history. Whether or not you are a baseball fan I am pretty sure everyone knows of the tremendous run the Braves had from 1991 forward. They won 14 division titles in a row which is something that had never been done and has not been done since by any major league ball club.

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Many believe that Bobby Cox was the catalyst for that impressive showing and it is probably pretty much true as is explained by Whitaker. However it was done it was quite a feat. Cox appeared to handle the players in such a way as to get
the most out of each of them as is described in the book. He treated each individually as best suited them and the team.

And that was quite an array of top flight players as it turned out. The author describes how Gregg Maddox came to the Braves and for the next ten years was one of the best pitchers in baseball. The incident when Maddox first joined the
Braves and how he and David Justice “collided” (actually in a nice way) is a neat piece by itself. He also gives interesting anecdotes about Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and others. Each of his pieces go together to make this an interesting read.
Each of the top players basically gets a chapter or more and then he briefly discusses the entire listing of all the players who played under Cox during his reign. All of these pieces make up, for a real baseball fan, a very enlightening read.

The author does quite a bit of discussing his own life and how he has always been a huge sports fan. And using that as a starter is how he eventually became a journalist and then honed in on sports from that beginning. He played sports all of his young life and has followed all sports throughout his career. He also talks in detail about his living in New York City while working and yet he still constantly did and does follow the Braves.

He has woven an interesting book that zeroes in on Bobby Cox but expands in a fashion to do a great job of keeping the reader’s interest in other players and also shows a good look at life as a sports journalist. Excellent job!

Ballplayer by Chipper Jones

Reviewed by Allen Hott

BallplayerPerhaps not only one of the haughtiest players to have ever played the game but also without a doubt one of the greatest to have ever played major league baseball. Chipper, or (L- a- r- r- y !) Jones as the New York Met’s fans like to call him, tells it like it is as he describes his long career in baseball. The idea that he spent his entire career playing with the Atlanta Braves and while he was there the Braves had some of the greatest years of any baseball franchise is pretty unusual in any sport. Chipper wasn’t the only reason they were so good but he was a very important contributor to that success.

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The book traces his beginnings growing up in a small town in north Florida where he was religiously schooled in the correct way to play baseball by his dad. His dad played college ball at Stetson University and was offered a contract by the Chicago Cubs but since it wasn’t for much money and since Chipper was “on the way” his dad opted to stay on at Stetson as their baseball coach. But more importantly he worked at developing his son into becoming a tremendous ball player.

Kat and the Bone by Tom Hoch

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Kat and the Bone“In order for your circumstances to change, YOU must change.”

Bullying is a common problem facing schools and neighborhoods. Unfortunately it usually does not end at graduation and carries into adulthood. How can anyone stop it?

Fortunately retired teacher Tom Hoch has written a fictional novel utilizing his years of experience in coaching and teaching social studies to offer a slightly different perspective that exhibits wisdom every person can value.

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Jim Snertzbaum has been bullied for years. His parents died in a car accident forcing Jim to live with his grandfather. His new parent is concerned but is seldom home since he works as a trucker. Jim was bullied at his old school. Now in addition to losing his parents, he is a new student with a strange last name. He already was not very athletic due partially to being overweight. With few friends and no adult support, he is an easy target for the bullies. Jim quickly learned to ignore those who made fun of him and the putdowns but he did remember them, reflecting on those comments during his frequent loneliness.

The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World by Joshua Prager

The Echoing Green

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Great story for any baseball fan. But especially a great story for any fan of the Giants, Dodgers, Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca or the 1951 national league playoffs.

Prager has done a ton of research and really dug up some great side stories of the above teams, players, and incident. He has gone back quite a ways to explain how each of these participants came to be where they were on that memorable day in 1951.

Discovering Balance (A Chip Fullerton/Annie Smith Sports Novel) by T.L. Hoch

Discovering Balance

Reviewed by Teri Davis

How often is a person’s life out of balance? Think of many of the professional athletes and the numerous personal problems that draw the attention of the media, would they have these issues if their life was more balanced? How often have you prioritize your work over your family?

B.A. Smith realizes that going to a new high school can be difficult. She has successfully made new friends and been accepted as part of the girls’ basketball team even earning respect as a valued player. More importantly to her is the development of being a team with everyone working together. Of course, there will always be a few difficult people who feel threatened by another athlete, but overall, the move has been a success.

Now that the basketball season is over, will B.A. continue with her athletic stardom into softball? Her rival, Tammi still feels that since B.A. arrived, her athletic gifts have been overlooked. Will she ever have the respect that she deserves?

Starting and Closing: Preseverance, Faith and One More Year by John Smoltz with Don Yaeger

Starting and ClosingReviewed by Allen Hott

No doubt one of the best pitchers in baseball when you look at all of his statistics, John Smoltz explains why he did some of the things he did during his great career. For those of you not familiar with Smoltz he pitched from 1985 to 2009 with (mostly) the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox, and the St Louis Cardinals. Born in Michigan John always wanted to play for the Detroit Tigers and in fact he was signed by the Tigers. But Detroit traded him to Atlanta while he was still in their farm system so in fact his beginning and hoped for ending became Atlanta.

His parents always had hoped that he would continue in music for a career as he was an accomplished accordion player by age four. He loved the music and still plays that accordion for relaxation but at an early age he became engrossed with baseball.

John was part of the great Atlanta Braves franchise that won 14 consecutive division titles during the 80’s and 90’s. He was part of a great pitching staff that included Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and others. Several members of that staff are considered virtual shoo-ins for the Baseball Hall of Fame. And that definitely includes John!

Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis

Dixieland DelightReviewed by Allen Hott

If you love football and especially love Southeastern Conference football then Dixieland Delight is a touchdown pass you can’t drop!

Clay Travis, the author and avid SEC fan, mapped out a tour that included a visit at each football team’s stadium in the conference. Beginning on September 2, 2006 he started with the Tennessee and California game at his alma mater in Nashville. From there he made 11 more stops and watched a game each Saturday during the 2006 season of SEC football.

You might think that since his grandfather played for the University of Tennessee back in the 30’s that Travis would be partial to the Mountaineers but in reality he is not. He did receive his law degree at Vanderbilt however and he really didn’t cut them any slack either as far as their program is concerned. Overall he pretty well describes what each school is like as he visits. Mostly he does however view each school from its athletic (football primarily) endeavors, their drinking endeavors, and a bit about their female students. And again he seems to be pretty even in his descriptions both pro and con.

Interspersed throughout the 12-week odyssey are bits and pieces of his own background and his life from a youngster until today when he practices law and writes columns as a sideline activity. Most of the tales that he spins are funny and all are definitely part of the whole picture of Clay Travis.