Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review of "Against the Grain"

I had the pleasure of receiving this book by a high school football coach whose team was the subject of an award-winning documentary film.   While the topics may be ones that many have written about, this particular book addresses them in a unique way that only a football coach can do.   Here is my review of "Against the Grain."  

“Against the Grain: A Coach’s Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family and Love” by Bill Courtney with Michael Arkush

Football, high school, motivational, family, faith

May 13, 2014

206 pages

4 1/2 of 5 stars (excellent)

Bill Courtney gained fame and recognition as the assistant coach in the Oscar-winning documentary “Undefeated” about a Memphis high school football team that became a winning program through hard work, faith and the teachings of a volunteer part-time coach.  That coach was Courtney who also turned an abandoned piece of property into a thriving business.  These successes helped Courtney decide to write this book in order to “coach” even more people on his vies of character, faith and family.

In the book, Courtney shares his values and reasons for his success in small doses.  He shares many stories about his players at Manassas, his employees, his family and himself on many topics that other books of this nature will cover: hard work, keeping one’s word, service to others, dreams, responsibility and other similar topics. While reading the book, the reader will be caught up in the moment and feel the joy of success or the occasional heartbreak of failure as Courtney’s subject will either learn a valuable lesson or at times even make Courtney stop and think that maybe he could learn from the player or employee.

My favorite story in the book is an example of Courtney pausing for a moment and thinking about these values he is trying to teach his players.  I believe that makes the message that he is trying to deliver even more powerful, as it shows we all have room for growth in these areas. 

In the chapter about service, Courtney was having trouble connecting with his players and speaks privately to one of the seniors on the team, asking what he needs to do in order to get the team to listen to him. The player simply said to keep doing what he was doing.  Pressing for details, the player eventually told the coach that the team was trying to figure out if he was a “turkey person.”   The player went on to explain that he and his teammates would often see
“folks who look just like you” drop off turkeys and other gifts and then leave, never to be seen again.   Courtney’s players were trying to figure out if he was a turkey person, according to this player. It made Courtney reassess how he was coming across to his team and as a result, the team responded by playing some of its best football. 

Stories like that make this book a terrific read for anyone looking for a little positive news, for some uplifting and helpful advice or just some nice stories on football and life.  The four and a half star rating I gave the book is rounded to five for Amazon and Goodreads that do not have half-stars for their ratings.

I wish to thank the publisher for providing an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
Because the stories are fairly short, consistent throughout the book and are varied in topic, the reader will fly through the book.  While I didn’t read it at one sitting due to other commitments, the total time to read all 206 pages was not very long at all.
Book Format Read:

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