I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.
As someone not immediately drawn to stories featuring sports, the synopsis drew me in with its hints at Tylene’s tenacity and the sacrifices of a small town during a world conflict. Ultimately, this timeless story is about so much more than football with its heartfelt and inspiring message of perseverance in the face of extreme adversity.
“There’s something special about Texas football. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a Texas sunset only to see a goalpost cut through the yellow and red splashed across the sky. Can’t say that I figured I’d coach it someday, but I promise you boys, I’ll give you all I’ve got.”
Tylene’s character was brought to life in such powerful way that spoke volumes on how much ahead of her time she truly was, exhibiting the heroic qualities of bravery, strength, vulnerability, and selflessness. Sharing a love of football with a town whose identity is deeply rooted in the game, Tylene is devastated by the possibility that the season may be cancelled because there isn’t an able-bodied man available to assume the coaching position. Tylene volunteers to become the leader the boys need; however, the community’s obsession isn’t strong enough to rally behind the idea of a female coach no matter how capable, dedicated, and qualified she may be. Her commitment to the town as a lifelong citizen, the respect she has garnered through her life’s work as an educational professional, as well as her love of the game is not enough to shield her from the divisiveness and outrage that arises even as she attempts to shield the boys from the unfortunate fate of war, something that everyone in Brownwood has become all too familiar with. This spirited account of one woman’s determination to see the boys play football is a captivating way of connecting personal loss with the grave losses felt within the community. You don’t have to know anything about football to appreciate the story’s ability to make connections across themes on family, history, and legacy.
“You have to do things when you have the chance, Jimmy, and not everyone gets a chance. When you do, you can’t throw it away. You just can’t.”
At a little over 200 pages, this book packs an incredible punch for such a small package! The author’s journalism background shines, cutting through the filler and making each word count. The straightforward and simplistic prose deftly expresses exactly what the reader needs to know, making this an excellent selection for a one sitting read or sharing with those reluctant readers of any age in our lives.
Sports have a way of bringing us all together to bridge social dynamics in ways that create lasting impressions, and this book is a profound exploration of this ideal. This slice of life moment is emotionally compelling and riveting from its sentimental opening through its gripping conclusion. Tylene sets a powerful and graceful example of what it takes to combat prejudice and sexism to shatter those glass ceilings, and we all benefit greatly when stories like hers are recognized.