You’ve already said your farewells to the family.
You’ll miss them, but what you have to do is important. There will be no running the kids to parties this spring. No weekend getaways, no impromptu excursions. Even though this happens ever year, they understand.
You’ve got March Madness. It’s incurable. And it’s incredibly fun.
But your favorite basketball team didn’t get to be the champions they are by themselves, you know. They had a coach who took them all the way to their current ranking. Now, one coach just racked up her 800th win and she’s heading for more. Read about her life and her career in “Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph” (c.2008, Crown, $24.95 / $27.95, 291 pages) by C. Vivian Stringer.
Basketball fans don’t have to be reminded about who Coach Stringer is. For the uninitiated, she’s the coach who took three different schools to championship seasons. She made tiny HBCU Cheyney into a basketball fan’s household name. She took Hawkeye women’s basketball to new levels. She pulled the 2006-2007 Rutgers University Scarlet Knights from a badly losing team to an NCAA game-playing season in a matter of months. But those accomplishments aren’t the ones of which Coach is most proud.
C. Vivian Stringer was born in Edenborn, Pennsylvania, the eldest of six children. Stringer’s father was a coal miner, and he made sacrifices for the family, the likes of which Stringer says she wasn’t aware until she was an adult herself. Stringer’s parents told their children that getting an education was not an option, but a requirement in life. They supported their children without fail, including their eldest daughter in her love of sports.
The compass that Stringer got from her parents served her well. After graduation from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, she accepted a position at Cheyney, where she took the team to the top. At the University of Iowa, she coached another women’s basketball team to a championship. She did it again at Rutgers. And she did it all while she endured the illnesses of her daughter, the death of her father and husband, and three hurtful words from a radio talk-show host.
I’ve watched my share of basketball games, but never an NCAA women’s game. Now I’m going to be glued to my TV. Now I’m another fan of Coach Stringer.
“Standing Tall” is a phenomenal book for several reasons: Coach is not afraid to tell stories, both about her triumphs and about her mistakes. Her humility comes shining through; this isn’t a been-there-done-that cocky athlete’s memoir. Stringer talks about herself, yes, but she also makes darn sure that readers know who’s important in her life and in her accomplishments: her family, her God, and her players.
If you’re a basketball fan of any sort, you’re going to want this book next your recliner for the rest of the season. If you’re not a basketball fan, you’ll still want to read this book for the inspiration between the lines. Either way, pick up a copy, because “Standing Tall” is a sure-shot memoir.