Be warned: I'm not much of a sports fan. Every four years I get my fix during the Olympics, and that tends to hold me over until the next one rolls around. But even I have to admit that there are some books that make me see how exciting, monumental, and awesome sports can be in a person's life. Here, I submit my top five most memorable sports scenes:
5. Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
Basketball? Check. Back story? Check. The multiple-award-winning Myers tells the story of a teenager nicknamed Slam who transfers to a new school and a new basketball team. Slam's skills in the final championship game shine and ultimately lead his team to victory. I was on the edge of my seat during the game scenes — check out this exciting passage: "There were nine seconds left when the ball came across the mid-court line . . . The ball was on my palm over my head with my elbow pointed toward the rim and my wrist cocked. Somebody grabbed my shirt at the waist as I started the shot. It felt like my shoulder was coming out of the socket as I felt myself being pulled down. The next think I knew I was on the floor and Nick was on top of me screaming and pounding me with his fists. We had won!"
4. Kristy and the Walking Disaster by Ann M. Martin
Poor Jackie Rodowsky. It can't be easy being nicknamed "the walking disaster!" In Book 20 of The Baby-sitters Club, Kristy decides tocreate a baseball team for a group of misfit kids, including the town's very own walking disaster. In the first official match-up, Kristy's Krushers face off against Bart's Bashers, whose polish and skill are intimidating. After a tough game, including a disaster at the refreshment stand, the Krushers succumb to the Bashers, 16–11. But the team is thrilled, and Kristy helps remind them what sports are really all about: teamwork and trying your best.
3. Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey
This is a fictional account of the absolutely true story of the young women who played professional baseball during World War 2 — the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. When Katie Casey hears about the tryouts, she can't believe her dream is about to come true! Even though everyone tells her girls shouldn't play baseball, she tries out and makes the team. In this scene, it's the opening game of the new women's league, and the crowd is teasing the players — but Katie doesn't care: "She stepped up to the plate and looked out at the stands. She'd been waiting her whole life for this. The pitcher threw the ball, and Katie swung . . . CRACK! The ball sailed up, up, up into the air. Katie took off running. 'It's a grand slam home run!' shouted the announcer. The crowd went wild! And Katie cheered right along with them because for once, no one was asking what good baseball was to a girl. They were too busy talking about how good GIRLS were at baseball!"
2. Twilight (for ages 12 and up) by Stephenie Meyer
You haven't played baseball until you've played it with vampires. In Twilight, Edward brings Bella to one of the Cullen family's favorite family outing locations — an empty field outside of town — during a thunderstorm. It all makes sense once the vampires begin to play. As they hit the ball, "the crack of impact was shattering, thunderous; it echoed off the mountains," imitating thunder. Bella is riveted — "it was impossible to keep up with the speed at which the ball flew, the rate at which their bodies raced around the field." Of course, those of you who read Twilight know that the game is eventually interrupted, but while it lasted, I couldn't put down the book.
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I couldn't possibly leave out the most exciting sports scene I've ever read! You may have heard of it — the Quidditch World Cup? Witches and wizards from around the world — a hundred thousand ofthem, to be exact — camped out (after arriving via portkey, of course)to watch Ireland battle Bulgaria in a tournament for the ages. The chase for the golden snitch is always exciting, but even more so when veela and leprechauns are serving as mascots and the Weasley twins are taking bets from participants. The celebration, though, ends up being dramatically cut short when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named makes his presence known. But overall, the Quidditch World Cup tops my list of favorite sports scenes.
What about you?
— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer