Mack McGinn's Big Winby Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Mack McGinn comes from a long line of winners: Gramp, the football hero; Dad, the (almost) Olympic soccer star; and Mack's older brother, Rory, who has enough trophies to start his own hall of fame. After Mack joins Rory at Danville Middle School, his own jock stock is starting to rise. Mack is running faster, getting stronger, and taking tips from his best… See more details below
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Mack McGinn comes from a long line of winners: Gramp, the football hero; Dad, the (almost) Olympic soccer star; and Mack's older brother, Rory, who has enough trophies to start his own hall of fame. After Mack joins Rory at Danville Middle School, his own jock stock is starting to rise. Mack is running faster, getting stronger, and taking tips from his best friend Digger's dad, who might be the greatest soccer coach in the whole state.
And if Mack can just steer clear of creepy Pope Banker next door, convince his mom that Digger's a good kid, keep his concentration on the track, and manage not to strangle Rory before Danville Day, he might make his family prouder than any eleven-year-old athlete ever dreamed possible.
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MACK N' CHEESE
Q. Why was Cinderella so bad at sports?
A. Her coach was a pumpkin and she ran from the ball.
Winning runs in the family.
First turn, front seat, favorite show, fattest slice. Best stash of cash on your birthday.
But those are just the scrimmages. With me and Rory, the real thing is sports.
Our grandfather was "Red" McGinn, famous quarterback for the Fightin' Irish of Notre Dame. Here in Danville, there's a street, a school, a stadium, and an ice cream named for Gramp. There's a statue of him in the park.
"You're the spittin' image of him, Mack," people say to me. "The red hair, the freckles..." They shake their heads, sniffling. "Your grandfather was a hero, a legend."
I feel a punch in my gut when they say that. I miss Gramp so much.
My grandfather may have been the famous McGinn, but, like I said, winning runs in the family. My dad was a superstar soccer player, nearly made it to the Olympics. He had Rory and me dribbling soccer balls before we could walk.
What do McGinns do?
How do McGinns win?
Anyway we can!
Dad doesn't play soccer anymore. He's a superstar salesman now.
Mom was a nationally ranked swimmer in college. Now she swims with the sharks selling Blue Ribbon real estate.
Bigger, better, best.
Never settle less.
Till your house is bigger.
Bigger, better, best!
We keep moving to new houses. We're moving to the "dream house" next month. I liked our first house, and we've only been in this second one a year, but nobody asked my opinion. I've got too much else to think about anyway. This is going to be a big year for me. The year I beat my big brother.
Beating Rory won't be easy. Rory never met a ball he didn't like. If a spaceship landed in Danville Park today and some weird, purple bobble-head creatures slithered out and started playing some whacked-out game, Rory would watch for about three seconds, shout "Count me in," and then beat the purple people at their own game. The bobble-heads would probably kidnap him back to their planet to be their new head coach.
All the coaches watch Rory. "That boy's going places," they say.
I remember when I was, like, three and Rory was five, my eyes were always blinking from all the cameras flashing after all of Rory's wins.
"Say cheese, Rory," Dad would say, all happy and proud.
"Cheese!" Rory would shout, waving a trophy in the air.
"Say cheese," Mom would gush, all happy and proud.
"Cheese!" Rory would scream, swinging a gold medal like a cowboy rope.
"Cheese, cheese, cheese!" I would shout, bouncing up and down, all excited. They were calling my favorite food. Those little white noodles, that cheesy sauce. "Macky, macky, macky," I'd say, shaking macaroni boxes like maracas in my hands.
I begged for "macky" in the morning, "macky" noon and night. That's how Rory named me. My real name is Matthew. In the family albums, there I am with that stupid orange grin, shoveling fistfuls of macaroni into my mouth.
One time, Rory thought it would be funny to stick macaroni in my other orifices too. Use orifice in a paper and I guarantee some teacher will be impressed. You owe me five bucks if you get an A. Anyway, there I was, eating my "macky," happier than a pig in poop, and Rory waited until Mom wasn't looking and then he stuck macaroni in my ear holes and up my nostrils, too. Way, far up.
I started crying, probably because I couldn't dig those noodles out to eat, and eventually they figured out the problem and rushed me to the emergency room. "Come on, Mackie, blow your nose," Mom kept pleading. "Come on, honey, blow !"
The doctor shoveled out my ears okay, but they had to suction my nose with a pump. That hurt. Poser Rory was crying, hugging me. "You're okay, little buddy, you're okay." He didn't even get in any trouble. So lucky. Trouble slides off Rory like butter off pancakes.
It's not that I'm not good. I am. Soccer, basketball you should see me on a tennis court. The thing is, Rory's older. He burst out of my mother two years before me. Rory was first. And no matter what I do, there's no beating that. Everything I do, Rory's already done. Every game I win, Rory's already won.
I think when you're the first kid born in a family, before you leave the hospital, a nurse gives you a shot of luck in your butt, and after that, you're golden. No matter how old you get, or mean, or how badly you screw up, you will always be lucky.
But you know what? Luck can change. Rory just doesn't know it yet.
I have a secret. At Camp Nassau this summer, I discovered something. It's not a new talent. I've always been good at it, but now I'm really, really good. Kids' eyes were bugging out and all the counselors made a big deal. Rory was at soccer camp. None of my friends were there. Mom and Dad weren't either.
That win was mine. No coaching, no cameras, no pressure. Sweet. It felt so sweet, I almost cried. I knew right then. I'd found my sport.
Just wait until Dad sees.
I start Danville Middle School tomorrow, sixth grade. Rory's in eighth. Next year, Rory might go to this high school in Florida where all the best soccer players go. Kids who have their pick of colleges. Kids who have a shot at the Olympics. I'm afraid Dad might move there with him. It's now or never for me.
I'm going to be sleek about this, though. If Rory gets even a hint of a clue, he'll start practicing and plotting and figure out some way to beat me. I'm going to keep Rory in the dark as long as I can, until I'm ready to make my move. Then, when I do, I'll beat him so badly, he'll wonder how he never saw it coming.
Trust me: This isn't going to be pleasant. My brother's been king for a very long time. King Rory the First won't relinquish his throne without a fight.
Relinquish is another fiver word. If you use it, you owe me.
The thing is, McGinns are winners. It's what everyone expects. Nobody notices normal wins anymore. It's going to take a big win, a really big win, to get some respect around here.
Don't get me wrong. There are some advantages to being the baby in the family. I figure you should milk the whole Santa Claus-Easter Bunny-Tooth Fairy deal as long as you can. Presents-candy-money? That's a no-brainer, right?
But with sports, I'm no pee-wee anymore.
This year, Mack's moving to the majors.
This year I'll be Mack McWin.
This year, finally, I will make my father proud.
Copyright © 2007 by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
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