Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ball Hog: Soccer Showoff by Jake Maddox and Margaret Gurevich

Gina Gozalez noticed the sign as soon as she approached River City Middle School--HOME OF THE RIVER CITY RAIDERS!

Gina smiled. That could be my new team, she thought. I could be a Raider!

Then her stomach tightened. River City Middle School was at least twice the size of her old school.

All I have to do is make it through the day, Gina thought. Then I can go to soccer tryouts.

After school, as she gathers with the others on the pitch, Gina is feeling lucky. The other girls are friendly, and Rachel and Lara admit that they need some new players to improve their record over last year's. Gina had been a star on her old school's team, and she hopes that if she does her best, she can make the team at River City.

Coach Grant sets pairs of girls to work on passing, dribbling, and shooting, and Gina and her partner Rachel get a special "Nice work!" from the coach when Gina's strong kicks get past the goalie. Gina knows that she is a terrible goalie, and sure enough, when it's her turn she misses most of Rachel's shots. But when the selections for the team go up the next day Gina's name is on the list. Gina is sure the Coach Grant noticed her special scoring abilities, and she can't wait to have her chance to show off what she can do as a shooter.

But in the first games, Gina doesn't get many opportunities to score. It seem like every time they take the ball downfield, one of her teammates bobbles a pass or has the ball stolen by the opponents before they have it in range for Gina to score.

Gina was frustrated. All this teamwork is slowing us down, she thought.

I wish I could just run down the field myself and score a goal.

And with her team behind in the second half, Gina gets the ball and has to make a choice.

The Tiger's defenders were closing in. From the corner of her eye, Gina saw that Lara was wide open.

From the sidelines, Coach Grant yelled, "Pass! Pass!"

But Gina took aim and kicked the ball. It curved toward the goal and sailed into the back of the net. Score!

If I can just stay on the ball, we'll definitely win, thought Gina.

And the Raider's get the win, thanks to Gina's play, but the others don't seem as excited as they should. Becca complains that Gina is not the only one on the team, and instead of praising her for saving the game, without a smile Coach reminds her that soccer is a team sport. What is wrong with these people? Didn't they want to win? Gina thinks.

At the next game, Gina is determined to try to score on her own. Despite two of her teammates signaling that they are open, Gina tries to take the ball all the way down field. This time, however, the defender steals the ball just as she gets ready to kick, and the Mariners get the goal.

Gina is benched.

"This team isn't about one person!" Coach said.

One of the significant values of team sports is teamwork, and that is the theme of Soccer Show-Off (Jake Maddox Girl Sports Stories) (Capstone Books) No matter how good she may be, Gina gets it that being a ball hog doesn't pay off in the long run--in more ways than one. Gurevich paces this sports story well, with equal time for gameplay description and personal relationships within the group. Illustrated by Katie Wood's full-page black-and-white vignettes, with a glossary and field position diagram and descriptions of soccer positions, this book offers an introduction to playing the game for young players with special attention to the indescribable essence of teamwork.

Becca sighed. "We're all on the team because, duh, we all love soccer!
"If we win, we do it together."

Gina laughed. "And if we lose, we do that together too."

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