Reviews of The Assist: Hoops, Hope and the Game of Their Lives and "Coaches' Corner" podcasts.
Just in time for March Madness, a new basketball book arrives to offer a little perspective. In The Assist: Hoops, Hope and the Game of Their Lives ($26, PublicAffairs, hardcover), author Neil Swidey introduces readers to Jack O'Brien, a white former basketball coach at suburban Boston's Charleston High School - a scene of fierce desegregation in the '70s. Despite rampant racism and a politically charged atmosphere, O'Brien consistently led all-black teams at the predominantly white school to state championships. A staff writer for The Boston Globe Magazine, Swidey followed the coach and his players for three gut-wrenching years, leaving the court with a story that captures the essence of interscholastic athletics.
Spring Training All Year Long
Mark Gallion, a youth baseball coach and business executive in St. Louis, has completed his yearlong cycle of "Coaches' Corner" podcasts. Available at diamondbaseballnetwork.com and iTunes (as well as other podcast directories), the 18-episode series provides advanced baseball training and skills development techniques, administrative advice and other valuable information for coaches. The focus is on working with elite 12- to 16-year-old players, and each topic relates to a specific time of the year. For example, one spring episode is called "Making Preseason Roster Decisions," while other episodes focus on "Coaching Behavior," "Statistics That Matter" and "Planning Indoor Practices." Gallion says he developed the podcasts because the business of coaching select-level youth baseball requires positive leadership year-round.