Saturday, March 3, 2018

Amy Bass's "One Goal"

A professor of history in New York, Amy Bass lived in Lewiston, Maine for four years as a student at Bates College. Her writing has appeared in Slate, Salon, and CNN Opinion, and her work for NBC’s Olympics coverage earned her an Emmy in 2012 for Outstanding Live Event Turnaround.

Bass applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together, and reported the following:
Page 99 in One Goal is toward the end of Chapter 6, Grind Mode, which focuses on how the Lewiston Blue Devils soccer team transitioned from being defeated in heartbreaking fashion in 2014 to a mindset that was ready to get ready to win in 2015. At a team meeting before summer and pre-season games get started, Coach McGraw tells his players that among all of the elements they need to take care of, (and there are plenty) academic eligibility is key. On page 99, we meet Jason Fuller, the Athletic Director of Lewiston High School, the man whose job it is to make sure student-athletes are exactly that: students and athletes.
As athletic directors go, Fuller looks like he stepped right out of central casting, sitting in a windowless office just off the gymnasium, cases of trophies lining the wall opposite his door. A burly guy with biceps that appear as though they might pop out of his polo shirt, he speaks in a booming, rapid-fire voice, rarely able to keep still, his close-cropped hair giving him an almost military appearance. He is, he admits, a tense guy and a straight shooter; someone who not only plays by the book but also wants to make sure the book is written correctly.

Ohgodyeah,” he booms, all one word, when he agrees with something. He is doggedly loyal to the school and its students or, as he, too, calls them, “my kids.” There aren’t enough hours in the day for Fuller to do everything he wants to do for Blue Devils teams.
Fuller is a pivotal character in the book, someone who constantly looms in the background to make sure everything is going exactly as it should. When he became AD, he worked hard with the school’s new principal, Gus Le Blanc, to create a better eligibility policy for athletes, one that dramatically improved graduation rates and strengthened teams.

A football guy, embracing soccer was something that took him a while, something he had to learn. But the one thing that took him no time at all to figure out? How to accommodate the newcomers to Lewiston’s sports teams, especially soccer. In this largely Catholic city with its long history of French-Canadian immigrants, Fuller never blinked at the soccer team’s roster, which was composed almost entirely of African refugees who practiced Islam. “These are our athletes,” he says much later in the book. “Accommodate them.”

It is no surprise that he was named Maine’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2017.
Visit Amy Bass's website.

--Marshal Zeringue