In 1975, freshman Melissa Isaacson—along with a group of other girls who’d spent summers with their noses pressed against the fences of Little League ball fields, unable to play—entered Niles West High School in suburban Chicago with one goal: make a team, any team. For “Missy,” that turned out to be the basketball team.
Title IX had passed just three years earlier, prohibiting gender discrimination in education programs or activities, including athletics. As a result, states like Illinois began implementing varsity competition—and state tournaments—for girls’ high school sports.
At the time, Missy and her teammates didn’t really understand the legislation. All they knew was they finally had opportunities—to play, to learn, to sweat, to lose, to win—and an identity: they were athletes. They were a team.
And in 1979, they became state champions.
With the intimate insights of the girl who lived it, the pacing of a born storyteller, and the painstaking reporting of a veteran sports journalist, Isaacson chronicles one high school team’s journey to the state championship. In doing so, Isaacson shows us how a group of "tomboys" found themselves and each other, and how basketball rescued them from their collective frustrations and troubled homes, and forever altered the course of their lives.
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About the Author
Melissa Isaacson is an award-winning sportswriter, author, and public speaker. In more than thirty years on the job, she has covered every major US sports championship, as well as the Olympics. She has written for numerous publications, including long tenures at such institutions as ESPN and the Chicago Tribune. She was the Tribune’s first woman columnist and beat writer on the Bulls and Bears, and she covered the Michael Jordan–led Bulls over their six NBA titles. She is currently on the faculty of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and lives in the Chicago area.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Our Coach
Chapter 2: “Well, I guess I’ll go try sports”
Chapter 3: Grovers and Wooders and Billy Schnurr
Chapter 4: Inappropriate Cheering and the Half-Court Shot
Chapter 5: “Son, son, get up!”
Chapter 6: New Beginnings, New Rituals
Chapter 7: Shirley’s Arm, Bridget’s Face, and Mighty Hinsdale South
Chapter 8: Dark Secrets
Chapter 9: Fun with Concussions and Those Weird Lumps
Chapter 10: Addition by Subtraction
Chapter 11: Having It All
Chapter 12: The Mighty Susies and Other Technicalities
Chapter 13: The Ultimate Slap
Chapter 14: Saturday Night Fever and a Champaign Hangover
Chapter 15: Big Whip
Chapter 16: Safe Haven
Chapter 17: Earl’s Girls
Chapter 18: Dreidl, Dreidl, Dreidl
Chapter 19: Let It Snow
Chapter 20: Perfect Shmerfect
Chapter 21: Joy Is . . .
Chapter 22: Why Not Us?
Chapter 23: April Fools