I’m Back!

No posts since early March, probably had people thinking that I’d given up on my blogging and writing. Not at all.

I finished the first draft of the German football book, tentatively titled “Year of the Razorback: Football in the Land of Schnitzel” until someone comes up with something better. Even more, my editor has given me some great notes and I’ve just finished the re-write.  Next step is to  start shopping it around to publishers. I will let you know how that is coming.

During my free time, between working field crew for Reno’s AAA baseball team and coaching HS football in Reno, I’ve also begun working on a novel about my teaching and coaching experiences in the Washoe County School District. Fiction allows me to be a lot more nasty and negative than I enjoy being when writing non-fiction. And I have a lot of crazy experiences to draw from.

This blog may or may not ever see this as I’m not quite sure I CAN write a novel, but you never know unless you try.

Next blog… and not five months from now will be an excerpt from Year of the Razorback.

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Big and Bright Reviews

I saw this on Facebook this week. Sales for Big and Bright are going well, but the truth is that being an author is an ongoing business. Reviews are important. If you’ve read and enjoyed Big and Bright, please take a moment to post a review on Amazon. The reviews are good, but there are only eight.

Thanks for your support!

book review

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Another Interview about Big and Bright and Texas HS Football

 

 

 

SL Interview: The State of Texas Football with Author Gray Levy

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Europe Book Excerpt

Razorbacks vs. Geissen #9Been too long since I posted. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve finally finished the first draft of my book about my season with the Ravensburg Razorbacks. Now comes the long process of editing and looking for publishers.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 12, hope you like it!

…It’s a sunny day and around 900 supporters fill the stands. The Sacristans are in white jerseys and purple pants. Our players wear black jerseys with red numbers and blue inserts, white helmet with a blue Razorback logo.
In European fashion, our uniforms resemble NASCAR racecars, with sponsors’ logos everywhere. Patches for Rigg’s Burger Restaurant are on the right hip and left butt cheek. Schrezenmaier Kaltetechnik is across the chest. On the helmet are stickers for Gessler+Funk Office Supplies and Kreuzer Immobilien.
The team seems to appreciate the home atmosphere as much as I do. Unlike the last two games, we come out on fire, leaving no doubt about how the game is going to go.
Inside zone right is the first play and it’s executed perfectly.
Garret holds the ball out for Steve and sees the Sacristan end crashing down the line towards our running back. Garret pulls the ball away and attacks the edge. When the safety flies towards Garret, he pitches to Micki running the bubble. Micki explodes past the block thrown by split receiver Martin Kastle for a 70-yards touchdown. We’re up 7-0 on the first play of the game.
A three and out is followed by a nice punt return from Jeremy setting us up inside the 20. Four plays later, Steve pounds into the end zone from the three and we’re up 14-0. Freiburg can’t handle our fast tempo. They’re gassed by the third play of every offensive drive. We’re dominating the trenches on both sides of the ball. Our offensive line opens huge holes for Steve, Kevin and Garret. Before our lead gets too large, I call some passes to let Garret throw some balls, but he sees so much open field that he mostly just scrambles for big gains.
By halftime, we’re up 42-0 on the way to a 61-3 final.
Winning big is fun, but these games make me feel guilty as well. There’s been some grumbling around the league that we don’t belong in the Regionaliga at all. We’d chosen the drop from the GFL2 though we’d qualified to stay. We’re better organized and funded than many teams we play. Today’s result is an example of this imbalance. Freiburg was simply outmatched in every way.
This dynamic isn’t exclusive to Europe. It’s a feature of football everywhere and at all levels. Infrastructure, experience and money differences create huge inequities. In football, more than any other sport, teams get what they deserve. The Razorbacks have more people who’ve put in more hours. We have better financial support for better import players and have more quality coaches than the Sacristans. The result of this difference in man-hours, experience and Euros is a butt-kicking. It may be ugly, but it’s a fair outcome. We deserve to beat teams like this.
I’ve spent many years coaching on the opposite end of this equation without whining about it. I tell myself to enjoy being on the top of blowouts like this. I’ve paid my dues to be in this position. That we’re better situated and prepared than Freiburg is nothing to apologize for. As a competitor though, battles between well-matched teams are more enjoyable than days like this…

 

 

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Interview and Book Information

 

I went to a Houston Barnes and Noble yesterday and found ten copies of Big and Bright on the shelf. Exciting for me to see.

Also had an interview about Texas HS Football come online on Sports Illustrated for Kids. You can take a look at it here.

http://www.sikids.com/blogs/2015/12/18/talking-texas-football-with-author-gray-levy

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Texas State Championships: Day One Takeaway & Why Football Matters

stateoftexaslogo

Today, the Brock Eagles won the 3A Division I Championship in just their second season of varsity football, knocking off 3-time champion Cameron Yoe, 43-33. How Brock went from no program to a Texas Title so quickly must be a great story, one I’d love to learn.
But, the details of why Brock started a football program in the first place made me think.
Brock has long been a Texas power in both boys’ and girls’ basketball. Many in the town were rightfully proud of the basketball success and content on continuing without football. For years, others had fought to bring football to Brock. Eventually the football crowd won out. Over 100,000 dollars was raised, a field was build and, three years ago, the Eagles first took the field.
The coach was asked why it was important to so many that football come to Brock, why not just continue focusing on basketball? His answer was simple but went straight to the heart of why high school football is the greatest game in the world.
He said, “Not everyone can play basketball.”
In Big and Bright, I wrote about places like Brock, small town schools with nearly 100% participation. I think I well described the flavor of the game in these communities, but somehow I overlooked one special feature of football.
It isn’t just that many do play, football is the only sport everyone can play.
I know about this personally. Growing up, I was a marginal baseball player. After being cut by the JV team my freshman year, I barely made the roster as a sophomore. Had I committed, I might have made the varsity as an upper-classman… or I may have been sent home. Basketball was out of the question for me. I had a decent work ethic and some toughness, but wasn’t a natural athlete. Luckily, I found football.
Football, alone among team sports, does not limit roster size. Everyone is welcome to come out and stay out, as long as they make grades and keep showing up. Football needs hard-working, tough kids, even those with no talent. With multiple, specific skill sets, there are positions for everyone. If a kid has guts and is willing to work hard he can overcome athletic limitations and be a football player. Even those who have NO skill (There always are a few) are welcome to participate. They may never see the field, but are usually respected. Perseverance is appreciated by the more talented teammates and everyone benefits from the games’ lessons, regardless of ability.
I’m a rare coach who isn’t nuts about the movie Rudy. It’s a good film, but I don’t find the story very remarkable. What happened at Notre Dame is true, but there’s a ‘Rudy’ everywhere I’ve been. ‘Rudy’s’ are a dime a dozen in football. If Rudy played basketball or baseball, he would have been cut.
As for me, I never had to worry about the ax in football. I was welcome to be part of the team and learn the game. As an underclassman, I did little but earn respect, but eventually became a decent pulling guard my final season. My football success was modest, but it couldn’t have been achieved in any other sport.
So, congratulations to the Brock Eagles, but especially to the non-athletes. Many were undoubtedly important parts of the program. Some played as linemen and filled out special teams. Others gave good scout looks during practice, helping the team prepare. Still others, probably helped by providing more talented teammates with examples of commitment, despite knowing they’d never be stars.
What a wonderful gift the football boosters gave so many students, kids who couldn’t have participated in other sports. Bringing football to Brock gave many kids the opportunity to be champions, instead of just cheering from the stands.

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Texas Visit for State Championships

stateoftexaslogoNext weekend, I’ll travel to Texas for the 2015 UIL Championship football games in Houston. This will be my first return to the Lone Star State since the publication of Big and Bright.

I hope to do some promotion for the book and my publicist is working out some events. Whatever happens, it will be an opportunity to catch up with some old friends and see some great football. Three Big and Bright teams have survived to the Semi-Finals, the Idalou Wildcats, the Carthage Bulldogs and the Aledo Bearcats. I’ll be pulling for all of them this weekend. It would be great to see some familiar faces in Houston.

I’ll be flying into Dallas on Sunday the 10th and will spend a few days in the Metroplex before heading to Houston for the games.

I look forward to seeing some of my Texan friends. If you’re going to be in DFW between the 10th and 13th or at the Championships in Houston, please feel free to get in touch.

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La Marque High has played final game

La Marque 050Surfing the internet today, I learned that La Marque High School has run out of appeals and will be closed at the end of the school year. While the details still are to be worked out it appears that this is truly the end. The last game the Cougars would play was a 2nd round 42-39 lose to Caldwell. I couldn’t get the link for the story about that game, but I’ve attached the story about the last win La Marque would ever have… on the night that the news of the closing came out.

Best of luck to the coaches, players and supporters of the La Marque Cougars. Above giving me a great first chapter to Big and Bright, you’ve done amazing work helping so many.

From the Galveston County Daily News:

Thursday night, the La Marque Cougars won a first-round playoff game for the 24th time in the past 26 years, but it was far from business as usual.
In the first half of the Coogs’ 35-6 bi-district win over Liberty, the news that La Marque faithful had feared since February officially came down — the Texas Education Agency would be shutting down the school district.
“Instead of going into halftime of a game and making halftime adjustments, we’re going in and deciding how to handle this situation,” La Marque head coach Mike Jackson said.
Jackson and his staff decided not to tell the team the news until after the game, but whispers of the announcement reached the players before then.
“We came out, understandably so, a little distracted coming into the third quarter,” Jackson said. “The only time we didn’t dominate the game was the first 6 minutes (of the third quarter). Then we kind of settled down.”
Pre- and post-game was the definition of peaks and valleys for the La Marque players, who received a pep talk from La Marque alum and Super Bowl V champion Norm Bulaich before kickoff, only to officially receive the news of the district’s closure after the final whistle.
“Right after the game, the coaches brought us all together, and, to me, it was really heartbreaking to know that the school that I’ve looked up to since I was in elementary school is closing down,” senior offensive lineman Ashton Holmes said. “It’s really sad.”
The life lessons players have learned through athletics — such as focusing on the task at hand, controlling only what can be controlled and that things aren’t always fair — are now being put to the test as the team continues its playoff run this week.
“I’m moving forward by keeping a positive mindset, telling people that it’s not the end,” Holmes said. “Even though La Marque ISD will no longer be here, we’ll still have a great school.
“Hopefully, this will attract people back here and build up our school numbers, so the tradition can continue, not as La Marque ISD, but as La Marque High School,” Holmes added.
It’s been more than nine months since the TEA’s decision to close La Marque ISD was first announced. Through appeals to the state, the district was able to delay a final decision until Thursday.
The entire time, though, this season’s Coogs have lived with that dark cloud hanging over them.
“It’s made me grow as a leader,” Jackson said. “It’s something I’ll never go through in my career again.”
There might not be a player on the team that La Marque ISD’s situation has stuck closer to than Holmes, who is the class of 2016’s valedictorian.
“When we found out on Feb. 6 the situation we were in, I was turning 17 that day,” Holmes said. “That was the worst birthday news ever.”
If one positive can be drawn from the school district’s struggles, it’s that the dire situation has made the team tougher than what would have been expected of this year’s group otherwise.
Jackson called this football season’s successes a true testament to both the players and coaches.
“We’ve lived it since Feb. 6,” Jackson said. “It’s been a teaching moment, that you focus on what you can control, and that’s really all you can do.
“I think it’s made us more resilient as a team,” Jackson added. “We just take the attitude of we control what we can control, and what we don’t control, we can’t worry about.”
In what was projected to be a down year for the Cougars, the team now sits with a 9-2 record, are winners of nine straight games and are district champions.
“Everybody knows that this was the year you were supposed to get La Marque,” Jackson said. “Our numbers are down, we don’t have the talent that we’ve had in years past. Everybody on our schedule was licking their chops. But, here we are.”
Going forward, following nine months of outside distractions, the team now finds itself doing what it has tried to do every week — preparing to try to win a football game.
“The team, and especially the seniors, haven’t had a chance to truly enjoy this playoff run because the focus has always been on other stuff,” Jackson said.
La Marque’s area round playoff game will be 7:30 p.m. Friday against Caldwell at Falcon Stadium, 25437 Willy Lane, Huffman.
Now that the team knows it is in its final playoff run under the La Marque ISD banner, maybe now this crop of Coogs can enjoy it a little bit.

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Another Big and Bright radio interview

cover of B & BI’ve been doing a lot of interviews for Big and Bright.   Some good and some not so good. Hopefully they are helping sales.  Attached is an interview for a station in Boston, I think came out pretty well.

You can buy the book from  Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks at www.rowman.com or call toll-free:
800-462-6420 FREE

If you’ve bought it, read it and liked it, please think about writing a review on the above links.  The book has gotten some very nice reviews, but the more the better!

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First Radio Interview for Big and Bright

I wish I’d talked more about how football can be a part of a comprehensive high school education, but other than that I think it went ok… Talking to Baltimore tomorrow morning.

http://media.1080thefan.com/audio-embed/110417738/embed.htm?width=500&height=350

Again, the book can be bought at all the places below.

The book is now available in bookstores, online and in e-book form.  You may order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks at www.rowman.com or call toll-free:
800-462-6420 FREE

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