Full-Court Press: Season Life Winning Basketball Team Women Who Made It Happpen

Overview

When Jody Runge, a young and ambitious basketball coach, arrived at the University of Oregon in the spring of 1993, she found the team - the Oregon Ducks - demoralized by its worst season in almost two decades, and ignored and underfunded in a male-dominated athletic department. The pressure on Runge was enormous: The Ducks had to earn the respect and recognition they needed to become a force in their league or decline into complete obscurity. While fighting a legal battle with the university administration for ...
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Overview

When Jody Runge, a young and ambitious basketball coach, arrived at the University of Oregon in the spring of 1993, she found the team - the Oregon Ducks - demoralized by its worst season in almost two decades, and ignored and underfunded in a male-dominated athletic department. The pressure on Runge was enormous: The Ducks had to earn the respect and recognition they needed to become a force in their league or decline into complete obscurity. While fighting a legal battle with the university administration for equal funding and support, Runge worked against the clock to improve the team's strategy and its collegiate standing. In the process, she taught the players the importance of self-esteem and commitment, and instilled in them a thirst for winning. As the players struggled with the pain of defeat, Runge put her career on the line by challenging the rules of collegiate politics. Game by game, the ragtag team built the strength that took them further than they ever thought they could go. And behind the scenes, their coach was maneuvering through a different, tough game of move and countermove, legal smarts, and gutsy cool against an establishment that wouldn't give in - until it had to.

An unprecedented look inside the women's basketball team at the University of Oregon. Full Court Press celebrates the excitement, the tension, and the drama of women's basketball and explores the meaning of being a female athlete in America today. 288 pp. National publicity. Print ads. 25,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jody Runge took the job of women's basketball coach at the University of Oregon in 1993 and in her first year vitalized a moribund program, even getting an invitation to the NCAA tournament. But the following season is the author's focus here. Kessler (Stubborn Twig), who teaches writing at the university, is a master of her craft. Particularly striking is the in-depth portrait of Runge, who was concerned not only with building a winning team but also with securing a long-term contract and establishing women's basketball as a sport that deserved recognition and decent funding from the male-dominated athletic department. To carry on all these battles, the coach needed almost superhuman fortitude, and somehow she found it in herself to persevere and win all her struggles. Kessler also explores the personalities of the players as they experience good games and bad, moments of joy and of despair. For all her ability to show Runge's strengths, Kessler has not written a hagiography: she makes clear that her subject is an outstanding coach for tough young women but a poor one for players who need stroking and reassurance. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Writing teacher Kessler (Univ. of Oregon; Stubborn Twig, Dutton, 1994) captures here the dynamics of a women's basketball program. The University of Oregon Ducks are moderately successful, moderately happy, and perennial underdogs. For the uninitiated nonathlete, Kessler explains some basketball intricacies and details the ups and downs, especially of the starting five, with their insecurities, injuries, and shooting slumps. The story, like the team, revolves around coach Jody Runge, who screams at her players, berates them, and tries every motivational tool. This is a riveting page-turner that should appeal not just regionally but to the burgeoning number of women's basketball fans. Recommended for public libraries.-Kathryn Ruffle, Coll. of New Caledonia Lib., Prince George, B.C.
School Library Journal
YAA real-life sports story, this book is dual plotted, following on one hand the fortunes of the low-rated Oregon Ducks, a university's women's basketball team that battles its way to the 1994 NCAA tournament and, on the other hand, the struggles of its young coach, Jody Runge, to obtain equal funding for her team and a fair salary for herself. The character and determination of both the adult coach and her young players are analyzed, and personalities and styles are examined. There is, of course, suspense and tension as this Title IX generation struggles not only against competing women's teams but also against the entrenched male-dominated sports department in their own university for a share of the facilities, equipment, and honor their efforts deserve. The account is honest in presenting conflicts between players and the coach, and between one another. Career aspirations in some cases come up against the time and energy demands of the court. Both physical and emotional pain are experienced during this frantic season. An accurate and worthwhile contemplation on women's college basketball.Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A passionately argued and timely study about the issues surrounding gender, amateur sports, and the law.

In her eighth book, Kessler (Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese-American Family, 1993, etc.) writes, "The inherent drama of athletic competition is that somebody always wins and somebody always loses." The drama that serves as the focal point of her book, however, appears to have less to do with players' wins and losses on the hardwood court than with a coach's battles before the civil court. An up-and-coming coach on the assistant level, Jody Runge leapt at the chance to take over in 1993 as head coach for the University of Oregon Ducks. When she arrived, she was welcomed by a team that had enjoyed little success but appeared ready and willing to improve. The problem was that the university athletic department accorded to women's basketball (a non-revenue producing sport), and to women's sports in general, facilities and funding that were a significant step down from those of such prominent and profitable sports as football and men's basketball, especially where coaching-staff compensation was concerned. Runge knew that these and other inequities were violations of Title IX. So she hired a prominent sports lawyer in hopes of strong-arming the school into giving her and the team equal standing—a status well earned as Runge led the Ducks to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths. Nominally a story about women's basketball, one of the fastest-growing sports in America, this book generally centers on the efforts to correct common misperceptions about women and athletics.

While many big-time college sports powers' athletic directors are slow in accepting it, both Kessler and Runge make a strong case that athletes are athletes, regardless of gender.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525940357
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1997
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 8.76 (w) x 5.86 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Kessler
Lauren Kessler is the author of nine books, among them Stubborn Twig, which received the Frances Fuller Victor Award for the year's best work of literary nonfiction. She directs the grad-uate program in literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where she lives with her husband and three children.


From the Hardcover edition.
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