Sports in Books: A List

This is post 2/2! I published my first post of this extremely short series a few days ago, and that was a discussion of sports in books. You can find that post here. In this post, I’ll be sharing some books I know that are about sports. These are books that revolve around sports or at least have sports as a large plot in them. All of these books are either queer or center around female characters (or both). I’ve read almost all of them, but not one of them, because it’s not out yet, so please forgive me if it’s not as much about sports as I think it is! (the summary is giving very very very strong clues that it is about sports, however).

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

This is actually an adult book and so for me at least I found it really slow but it’s a great story about a girl’s field hockey team in Massachusetts in 1989. There’s a bit of a paranormal theme going on it, so it’s not a realistic fiction book, but it’s nonetheless very enjoyable. I loved the way it chronicled the entire team, and yet I was able to keep track of the characters, and I loved the way that the girls were super close and super loyal to each other.

Michigan Vs. The Boys by Carrie Allen

Anyone who’s been following my blog for about a month knows how much I love this book. It’s a story about a girl who, when the girl’s hockey team at her school gets cut, tries out for the boy’s hockey team. Michigan is such a strong character, she goes through so many things, and yet she just keeps going, because hockey is the sport she loves. This book is so empowering for anyone who’s been told they can’t do something because of their gender and I hope it inspires girls to continue with sports AND to speak out when they’ve been wronged for years to come.

A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner

This book literally changed my life.
A High Five for Glenn Burke is about a sixth grader, Silas, who loves playing baseball. Silas also does a school report on Glenn Burke, the major league baseball player who invented the high five–and Burke was also the first openly gay MLB player. It’s Silas’s way of beginning to admit the truth about himself to others.
This book is absolutely amazing. First of all, Glenn Burke definitely deserves more attention and I’m glad that this book can teach people about him. But also, this is just a middle grade book that is SO well written, with such a great story and a great character. This book means more to me than I could say, it’s an extremely special book to me, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone looking for a book about sports.

Fence by CS Pacat

The Fence series is several volumes of graphic novels about, well, fencers. It follows the main character, Nicholas’s journey of getting onto his boarding school’s team, his (possibly one-sided) rivalry with his roommate Seiji, and the entire fencing team! Also, basically everyone is casually queer. It’s really nice to see a book about fencing because it’s not a sport you see as much as others, and for those who don’t know I actually fenced two years ago (the school year before the pandemic). I wasn’t very good at it, but it was still fun and I learned a lot about the sport.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

My original draft of this post said that I hadn’t read this book but I quickly remedied it and this book is AMAZING. It’s about a trans boy who’s just moved to a new school and gets on the soccer team and it’s so sweet. I love the team dynamic in this book so if that’s something you enjoy, pick this up!!! It’s also very good to see trans kids in sports because that’s not something that there are books on very often.

Icebreaker by AL Graziadei

Long story short, I kinda flipped out when I learned this book exists.
It’s not actually out yet, and I haven’t read it either, but seriously, it sounds so good. It’s about two boys fighting for the top draft spot in the NHL draft but then they fall in love. I’m really excited because this is a book that it’s queer and deals with PROFESSIONAL sports, which I’m really interested to see how it goes.

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

I read this book pretty recently, and it’s a fun graphic novel about a college hockey team. The characters are really fun and it’s just an overall fun, easy book. There’s a great relationship between all the people on the team and you can tell that the author did a lot of research on college hockey, given all the little hockey lingo and the Haus, and everything else.

It was absolutely not my intention but four of these books are about some form of hockey and why are hockey books more often than anything else? (or maybe they’re just more POPULAR)

Have you read any of these books? What are some other books that you’ve read that follow sports? What did you think of this post? Please, let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for stopping by, and as always, stay safe and keep on reading!

Interview with Carrie Allen, Author of Michigan Vs. The Boys

Hey, everyone! Today I am extremely excited to be hosting an interview with Carrie Allen, the author of Michigan Vs. The Boys. I read Michigan Vs. The Boys in May and I loved it! It was amazing to see another book with girls in sports because there are so few and the book overall was super inspiring!
Here’s a little bit about the book:

Michigan Vs. The Boys | Carrie Allen

Published October 1st, 2019

304 Pages | ebook

Content Warnings: bullying, attempted sexual assault, use of date rape drugs

Michigan Manning’s whole life is hockey. This is her team’s year, she knows it. But budget cuts at her school are keeping the girl’s hockey team away from the ice. Her team won’t be playing this year.
Determined to play hockey no matter what it takes, Michigan tries out for the boy’s hockey team. Even though the boys are just about the opposite of thrilled to have a girl on their team, Michigan is determined to play hockey, through whatever they throw at her. After all, this is the year that colleges are taking note.
But one ‘prank’ on Michigan crosses the line to assault and she has to decide whether she wants to risk hockey in order to speak up.

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an author?

I started writing in elementary school– my first books were written on binder paper, trimmed and stapled to resemble “real” books. I always had an urge to write, and to read, but high school English classes chased me away to the sciences. After college and grad school, I had trouble finding books I connected with, and I hadn’t written in years. Until one day, I was traveling with the collegiate volleyball team I worked with, and we’re all lounging on the nasty airport floor waiting for a flight. Our outside hitter said, “Carrie, you HAVE to read this!” and passed me a copy of a book with a pair of hands holding a red apple on the front. And wow—there was suddenly this whole shelf of books that I hadn’t been reading because I was supposed to be A Grown Up. Then, when I semi-retired from sports medicine to stay home with my first baby (who is about to turn ten!) I binged the Hunger Games trilogy. As soon as I finished the last page of Mockingjay, I turned back to the first page of Hunger Games and binged the whole series again. As soon as I finished it the second time, I started writing my first manuscript (the first of a terrible, terrible dystopian trilogy that we will not discuss further.)

What inspired you to write Michigan Vs. The Boys? How did you first come up with the idea?

Michigan Vs. The Boys is actually my second hockey manuscript. The first was about a girl who spent her whole childhood playing on a boys’ hockey team, and when she’s invited to a USAH development camp, she has to transition to playing on a girls’ team. It was super fun to write, but as soon as I finished it, I knew I had to write the harder story—for the girls who didn’t get to have my MC’s positive experiences. I love hockey and I want my sport to be the best it can be, on and off the ice. In writing Michigan, I wanted to support the athletes while shining a light on the work that still needs to be done.

What are some things that you hoped to accomplish by releasing Michigan Vs. into the world?
Why do you think that it is important that there be more books like yours published?

My first goal with Michigan was to support the athletes like Michigan, because I’ve been there. I’ve been the only girl in the room or on the ice, and I’ve faced things I shouldn’t have had to. Every girl in hockey has; most girls in sports have. But I also saw a need for books like Michigan—the gatekeepers in publishing haven’t let a lot of sports-centered books through. There are so many real life Michigans, and I want them to see themselves represented on the bookshelves, to have their stories told. 

But I also wrote Michigan for the readers who don’t follow sports, readers who don’t think they like sports. I can’t blame them—mainstream sports media isn’t really my jam either. Women receive only 4% of sport media coverage. Four percent! You really have to work to find the sports that I follow, which means there are so many amazing athletes whose stories we never get to hear! Not only that, but women in sports and YA fiction have a lot more in common than readers might realize—starting with the fact that many women in sports ARE young adults! I know YA readers would love these athletes if they could gain more access to them.

What did you learn while writing Michigan Vs. the Boys? How did you grow by writing it?

Michigan was actually an easy book to write– don’t hate me for it, because I’ve had my share of not-easy manuscripts! Because I spent twenty years playing, coaching, reffing, and covering hockey as a Certified Athletic Trainer, I didn’t have to research much. I kept a USA Hockey rulebook nearby to double check facts as needed, and luckily one of my best friends grew up in the U.P. and was able to help me with the setting. 

I grew by writing Michigan because it was brutal to put her through the trials that I did. Those were both some of the hardest and easiest scenes to write. They’d flow easily from me, but leave me emotionally wrecked. I just kept picturing the lone girl at so many rinks across the country and thinking, “I’m doing this for you!”

What sorts of books would you like to see published in the future (plots, rep, etc.)?

Oh, wow, we need more sports books like you wouldn’t believe! We need joyful books and books about the problems in sports and books about team dynamics and individual athletes and non-traditional sports and trans athletes and queer athletes and racism in sports and body positivity and toxic femininity and sports journalists and non-American sport settings and Paralympic athletes and recreational athletes and Olympic athletes and everything in between! It never ceases to amaze me that approximately half of all high school students are athletes, but YA sports books take up only a teeny tiny sliver of the bookshelves. Sports are so much more than a sixty-minute game or seven innings or one hundred meters, and I’d love for YA readers to be able to connect to the athletes and experience the whole story.

What is one or more things that helped keep you going when you were stuck with writing this book? This can be a specific food, a pet, family member, hobby, etc.

My number one way to get unstuck is to walk the dog—literally. I actually thanked my dog Ivy in Michigan’s acknowledgements, because our early morning rambles were how I fixed all of Michigan’s sticky spots! Now I take my cattle dog mix, Torrey, for walks or runs to mull over ideas I want to explore or to imagine my characters. Dogs are awesome– they never look at you weird when you’re dictating out-of-breath notes about imaginary people while hoofing it up a hill.

There’s a scene in Michigan vs. The Boys where Mich goes for a run and she’s feeling isolated and lonely, so to push herself, she pictures her former teammates running with their teams, or Jack training in the pool by himself. She feels less lonely knowing that somewhere out there, someone else is training, too. I feel that a lot when I’m writing. Somewhere out there is an athlete who needs my book, and that gets me working.But also, tea and peanut butter M&Ms 😊

And finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write for you first. Write your passion, write the book you want to read. I’ve written probably twenty novels and short stories. Even if I’m incredibly lucky, I’ll still only get to share a small percentage of my work with the world. But each one of those stories has meant something to me, and that’s what gets me working on the next one.

The other advice is to find your people. It is scary and hard to make friends in the book world, but it’s also much easier to create when you’ve got people who believe in you. And critiquing for friends is the best way to learn to write and revise. Publishing is a team sport!

I loved conducting this interview with Carrie. She was a delight to talk to and I think that all her answers are so thoughtful and amazing. As most of you probably know, I play softball so books with girls in sports are really inspiring to me and I definitely agree that we need more! The book community is a lot better because of Carrie’s book and I hope that more authors or aspiring authors will find her book and decide to write one of their own sports books.

What’d you think of this interview? Have you read Michigan Vs. The Boys by Carrie Allen? Do you play any sports?
As always, thank you so much for stopping by to read–it means the world! Please, stay safe and keep on reading!