Out of Bounds

Out of Bounds

by Fred Bowen

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Overview

There’s “plenty of soccer action” in this story of a middle schooler who has to figure out how to balance good sportsmanship with the goal of winning (Booklist).

Eighth-grader Nate Osborne is a forward on his U-14 soccer team, the Strikers. He and the rest of his teammates are very competitive—especially when it comes to their rivals, the Monarchs. They want the Monarchs to lose so badly that they’ll even root against them when they play other teams.

Then, during a game between the Strikers and the Monarchs, a boy on the opposing team gets injured, and Nate must decide between going for a goal or kicking the ball out of bounds as an act of sportsmanship. His aunt, who’s also a soccer player, has taught him the importance of fair play, but when Nate stops the clock and sacrifices his chance to win the game, his teammates just don’t understand.

From the author of the Sports Stories and All-Star Sport Stories series, as well as the kids’ sports column “The Score” for the Washington Post’s KidsPost section, Out of Bounds is an entertaining and thoughtful tale about young athletes striving to become not only great players, but also great people.
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504044998
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date: 02/21/2017
Series: All-Star Sports Stories , #11
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 144
Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 8 - 11 Years

About the Author

Fred Bowen was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a seaside town north of Boston. Most of his family still lives there—he has four big brothers and two sisters.

His dad loved sports. One of Bowen’s earliest memories is watching the 1957 World Series on TV with his dad and his brothers. Bowen’s dad was his Little League coach and his brothers were his teammates in backyard football and “driveway basketball.”

When Bowen turned eighteen, he left behind his sports-happy childhood and headed to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Bowen has always loved US and world history and he made history his major in college. Bowen also loves sports history because of all the great dramas and big personalities, which is why he weaves real sports history into all of his stories.

After he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, he went to George Washington Law School in Washington, DC.

Shortly after he graduated, he met Peggy Jackson, a journalist. They got married two years later and now have two grown children. Their son is a college baseball coach and their daughter works for a nonprofit in Chicago. When they were in elementary school, Bowen coached their baseball, basketball, and soccer teams—more than thirty teams in all.

Bowen was a lawyer for many years and retired from practicing law so that he could write for kids full time. He gets to spend a lot more time writing and he gets more time to visit schools and talk with kids about his books. He also speaks at a lot more conferences and meets more cool teachers and librarians.
Fred Bowen was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a seaside town north of Boston. Most of his family still lives there—he has four big brothers and two sisters.
His dad loved sports. One of Bowen’s earliest memories is watching the 1957 World Series on TV with his dad and his brothers. Bowen’s dad was his Little League coach and his brothers were his teammates in backyard football and “driveway basketball.”
When Bowen turned eighteen, he left behind his sports-happy childhood and headed to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Bowen has always loved US and world history and he made history his major in college. Bowen also loves sports history because of all the great dramas and big personalities, which is why he weaves real sports history into all of his stories.
After he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, he went to George Washington Law School in Washington, DC.
Shortly after he graduated, he met Peggy Jackson, a journalist. They got married two years later and now have two grown children. Their son is a college baseball coach and their daughter works for a nonprofit in Chicago. When they were in elementary school, Bowen coached their baseball, basketball, and soccer teams—more than thirty teams in all.
Bowen was a lawyer for many years and retired from practicing law so that he could write for kids full time. He gets to spend a lot more time writing and he gets more time to visit schools and talk with kids about his books. He also speaks at a lot more conferences and meets more cool teachers and librarians.

Read an Excerpt

Out Of Bounds


By Fred Bowen

Peachtree Publishers

Copyright © 2015 Fred Bowen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-4499-8


CHAPTER 1

Racing down the sideline, Nate Osborne glanced over his shoulder at the soccer ball soaring through the crisp, clear September air. The ball bounced once at his side. With a quick touch, Nate brought it under control with his right foot.

A defender stepped up to challenge him. Nate had to make a quick decision. He could either dribble the ball deeper into the corner or cut toward the center of the field and the goal.

Be aggressive, he thought. Take it to the middle.

Nate crossed the ball to his left foot and cut sharply to the goal. His quick feet put the defender off balance and a step behind. Another defender raced over to cut off Nate's path to the goal.

Nate slipped the ball past the charging defender and stepped over his flying tackle. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied the goalkeeper coming out to cut down the angle. With a quick stutter step, Nate caught up with the ball and set up a right-footed shot.

Boom! The ball curved around the diving keeper and rocketed toward the near post.

Thunk! The ball hit the silver metal post and skittered across the front of the goal. A defender blasted the ball away from the net and over the sideline.

Tweeeeeet!

Coach Lyn's whistle brought the action to a halt. "Great play, Nate!" he shouted. "That's how we stay aggressive! Attack the goal. That's what we want our forwards to do." The coach turned to the defenders. "Remember, don't challenge someone with Nate's speed too much. Play the angles. You can't let him get behind you."

Coach Lyn waved his arms toward the sidelines. "That's enough for today. Good practice. Let's get some water."

The Strikers gathered around a big orange plastic bucket and dipped paper cups into the ice-cold water.

"Hey, at least take your gloves off!" yelled Sergio Hernandez, the Strikers midfielder and Nate's best friend. He was pointing at Cameron Wallace, the team's goalkeeper. "They're filthy."

Nate gulped the water so fast that some ran down his chin and splashed onto his shirt. The cold water felt good. The September heat had turned Nate's uniform into a sweaty second skin. Summer was still hanging on.

"Man, Nate totally faked Cam out with that awesome move," Sergio said, still teasing the goalkeeper.

Cam grinned. "You're so wrong. I had it all the way."

Sergio wasn't having any of that. "Oh, so you knew the ball was going to hit the post?"

"Absolutely," Cam insisted. "Don't you know the goalposts are a keeper's best friends?"

Sergio laughed. "And I guess you wanted the ball to be bouncing around in front of the net?"

Stevie Greenwald, the Strikers' top defender, stepped forward. "No worries, I had Cam's back."

Nate decided to get in on the fun. "By the way, Sergio. Where were you on that play? I thought a midfielder like you would be right on the spot to pick up an easy goal."

"Yeah," Stevie agreed. "You should have been on that ball."

Sergio paused. He didn't have a quick answer for that one. "Maybe I didn't want to run up the score and embarrass my teammates," he said finally.

All the Strikers laughed.

"Seriously," Sergio said. "I was trying to be a good sport."

"Yeah, right," Nate said, still chuckling. Sergio was a terrific midfielder and probably the most competitive player on a team full of competitors.

"Listen up, Strikers!" Coach Lyn strode toward the circle of players with a stack of papers in his hand. "Good practice. We've got one more before our first game."

"Are those the schedules?" Sergio asked.

Coach nodded and started handing out sheets of paper. "Yeah. All the games are on Saturdays at the SoccerPlex. Make sure you get there twenty minutes early to warm up. At least twenty minutes early."

Nate grabbed a schedule and looked down the list of teams and games. He was looking for only one thing.


Date
Opponent
Time


September 12 Sharks
Noon
September 19 Vipers 1:30 p.m.
September 26 United 3:00 p.m.
October 3
Devils 9:00 a.m.
October 10
Sabres 10:30 a.m.
October 17
Rapids 3:00 p.m.
October 24
Monarchs 1:30 p.m.
October 31
Rush 10:30 a.m.
November 7
Barracudas
Noon
November 14 Championship game TBA


All games will be played at the SoccerPlex.

The first- and second-place team in the standings after the regular season will play in the championship game.


Sergio looked over Nate's shoulder. "When do we play the Monarchs?" he asked, reading Nate's mind.

"October twenty-fourth," Nate said, his eyes resting on a single line in the schedule. "The seventh week of the season."

Sergio was studying his own schedule sheet now. "It's good we play them later in the season," he said. "It'll probably be for the championship ... again."

"The two top teams from the regular season play a separate game for the championship," Nate said, pointing at the last line of the schedule. "You know that."

"But anytime the Strikers play the Monarchs it's a big game," Sergio said. "A championship game."

"Right," Nate agreed.

The two friends started walking home. They lived on the same street not far from the soccer practice field. As always, they talked about soccer and the Strikers.

"I'm still mad we lost to the Monarchs in overtime last year," Sergio said. "That cost us the U-13 league championship."

"But we were the U-12 champs," Nate reminded him.

"So I guess we're tied."

"And this year we'll break the tie."

"Yeah." Sergio smiled. "I'm already looking forward to the twenty-fourth."

The boys turned on to their street. "Don't forget the other games," Nate cautioned his friend. "The Devils and the Sabres are good too. So's the United."

"No worries."

Nate paused. "We may need you to score more goals if we're gonna beat those guys," he said. "Like the easy one in front of the net today."

"I'm telling you —"

Nate cut his friend off. "Oh yeah, I forgot. You were trying to be a good sport."

Even Sergio had to laugh this time.

"See you tomorrow!" Nate waved and turned up the walk to his front door. He turned the key and went in. The house was quiet. The family dog, Matty, was sleeping in the corner. The West Highland White Terrier was older than Nate and always seemed to be asleep.

Nate found a note from his mother on the kitchen counter.


Nate —

I will be home from work about 6:30 pm. Help yourself to some healthy snacks until then. We will have roasted chicken from Whole Foods for dinner.

Love you. Mom


He reached into his backpack and pulled out the Strikers season schedule. He placed it at eye level on the refrigerator door under a large magnet for a local pizza place, then plucked a blue marker from a tall coffee mug on the counter filled with pens, pencils, and pairs of scissors.

He circled "Monarchs" and the October twenty-fourth date. "I can't wait," he whispered softly to himself.

CHAPTER 2

"Are you ready?" Nate's mother called from the bottom of the stairs. "Aunt Lizzie's here."

Nate tied a quick knot in his sneaker laces and bounded down the stairs.

"Hey, Lizzie. I'm ready."

His aunt stood inside the doorway talking to his mom and dad. She wore a blue soccer jersey with the number 9 on the back, white shorts, and blue kneesocks over her shin guards. Her shoulder-length reddish brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

"Here's my number one fan," she said as Nate jumped down the last three steps.

"When will you be back?" Nate's father asked.

"The game's at seven, so it should be over by eight-thirty," Lizzie answered. Then she added with a sly smile, "So ... I should have him back by midnight."

"Very funny," Nate's mom said. "You both know it's a school night."

"But Mom, I've done all my homework," Nate protested.

"You heard what she said," his dad cautioned. "Not too late."


Nate climbed into the clunker of a car that Lizzie had named "Bertha." The fifteen-year-old Subaru sedan seemed to have half of Lizzie's apartment in the backseat.

"Who are you guys playing?" Nate asked.

"The Stars."

"Any good?"

"They came in second place overall last year. Maybe we can surprise them," Lizzie said, turning the key. Bertha's engine started putt-putting like an old motorboat, and one of her favorite bands blared out over the speakers.

"You still playing up front?" Nate asked.

"Oh yeah." Lizzie almost had to shout to be heard above Bertha's engine and the rock music. "I told everyone that I have to put one in the net tonight for my favorite nephew."

Nate laughed. He was Lizzie's only nephew. But Lizzie was the best aunt ever. Twelve years younger than Nate's mom, she seemed more like his older sister than his aunt. Lizzie had played soccer in college and now worked for a local newspaper as a reporter covering sports and politics. She took Nate to games all the time. Tonight they were headed for one of her games in a women's adult soccer league.

"We'd better hustle," Lizzie said as they pulled into a space in the high school parking lot. "I'm running a little late."

They jogged toward the lit stadium. Once they were inside, Lizzie looked over at Nate. "Come on, I'll race you!" They both took off. Nate was fast, but not as fast as his aunt. She beat him to her team's bench by a couple of steps.

"Hey, Lizzie! Nice of you to make it," a teammate called.

"I knew she'd be here," someone else said. "Lizzie would never miss a Chiefs game."

Lizzie put her arm around Nate's shoulder. "Ladies, you all remember my favorite nephew, Nate."

Suddenly Nate was in the middle of a sea of smiles.

"Look at how tall he is."

"And handsome — look at those dimples."

"What grade are you in?"

"Eighth," Nate answered. He could feel the blood rushing to his face.

"You must have a dozen girlfriends."

"I'll bet it's two dozen ... at least."

"He's gonna be a heartbreaker, Lizzie."

She waved the comments aside. "He's going to be a soccer player," she declared. "Like his aunt."

As the game started, Nate climbed into the metal stands and sat near a small group of Chiefs fans. He scanned the small crowd, looking for someone he knew. Not many kids his age came to these games. Then he spotted an athletic-looking kid bouncing up the steps. Uhoh, Nate thought. It was Hunter Thomas, the best player on the Monarchs. He sat across the aisle about two rows down. Not too close, but close enough. Nate slid down in his seat, hoping Hunter wouldn't see him.

But after a few minutes, Hunter called out, "Hey, Nate! What are you doing here?"

"Uh ... hi. Watching my aunt. What about you?"

"My older sister's playing."

"Which team?"

"The Stars. Gold team. What about your aunt?"

"The Chiefs. Number 9."

"I guess we're always rooting for different teams." Hunter shrugged and turned his attention back to the game.

Lizzie scored the first goal on a sweet redirection of a low crossing pass. She pointed to Nate in the stands as if to say, I told you I'd score a goal for you.

The teams traded goals until the game was tied 3–3 late in the second half. There was still time for one more score.

Lizzie dribbled down the pitch, looking as if she wanted to win the game by herself. She leaped over a flying Stars tackler. Nate jumped out of his seat in anticipation, seeing almost nothing between Lizzie and the goal. But his aunt did not race to the net. She glanced back at the defender and slowed down, then softly kicked the ball out of bounds with her left foot.

"What the —?" Nate said out loud in the stands.

The referee blew her whistle and waved in a trainer and another Stars player from the sidelines. The defender who had missed the tackle on Lizzie lay on the ground for a moment, then got up slowly. She tested her left leg and jogged off the field, limping slightly.

The referee signaled it was the gold team's ball on the right sideline for a throw-in. The Stars fell back on defense. A Stars player threw the ball in. But instead of tossing it to a teammate, she threw it directly to Lizzie, who went back on the attack.

Nate blinked in disbelief. "I don't get it," he whispered under his breath. "First, Lizzie gives the ball away and then the Stars give it right back? That's weird."

Neither team was able to mount any scoring chances before the referee blew her whistle again, this time signaling the end of the game.

Nate got up and stretched.

"Good game!" Hunter called from across the way. "Your aunt's a real player."

"She played Division 1 in college," Nate said proudly.

"I can believe it." Hunter turned to walk down the steps. "See you around."

"See you on October twenty-fourth," Nate said, remembering the day of the Strikers-Monarchs game.

"Yeah, definitely."

Nate and Lizzie walked slowly toward the parking lot. With each step, the bright lights of the stadium melted into the darkness.

"You played great!" Nate gushed.

Lizzie smiled. "Not bad for an old lady. At least I was able to score a goal for my favorite nephew."

"By the way, what happened on that play late in the second half?" Nate asked, remembering the moment when Lizzie hadn't rushed in toward the net.

"What play?"

"The one where you blew by the defender and then slowed down and kicked the ball out of bounds."

"Oh yeah," she said. "I think the defender caught a spike and turned her ankle. The field was getting choppy."

"But you were past her," Nate said. "Why didn't you take it to the goal?" Lizzie raised an eyebrow, looking a little annoyed. "You always stop play if you think someone is hurt."

"What do you mean?"

"It's a soccer tradition," she explained. "You're supposed to stop play if someone is down. Don't they teach you that anymore?"

"I never heard of it. They just teach us to win."

"Really?" Lizzie sounded surprised. "Well, I didn't want to beat the other team just because someone got hurt. Besides, they gave us the ball right back."

Nate still didn't understand. "But you had a chance to score," he insisted.

"Maybe. But I wouldn't want to score that way." Lizzie reached into the backseat of her car and pulled out a sweatshirt. She slipped it on to guard against the chilly autumn air.

"You want to come to the pizza place?" she asked. "Some of our players are going."

"I don't know. It is a school night," Nate reminded her.

Lizzie smiled her sly smile. "Don't worry. I'll have you home before midnight."

CHAPTER 3

Riiiiinnng. Twenty-two notebooks snapped shut as the bell rang to end Mr. Sherman's world history class. Nate and Sergio started for the door. It was lunchtime and they were starving.

"Remember to read chapter three!" Mr. Sherman shouted above the chatter and the clatter of chairs. "You may get some questions on that material on the Friday quiz."

Nate and Sergio spilled out into the crowded corridors of Benton Middle School.

"Like your shirts," a girl said as she passed by. Nate elbowed Sergio and smiled. They were both wearing white Real Madrid team jerseys. They picked up the pace as they entered the cafeteria. The line wasn't all that long yet.

"What do you boys want?" Mrs. Bennett asked from in back of the counter.

"Meat loaf and vegetables, please," Nate answered. "Gravy on everything."

"Whoa!" Sergio stepped back as if he was shocked. "Going with the mystery meat? Brave call."

Mrs. Bennett was not amused. "What do you want?" she asked, staring daggers at Sergio.

"Chicken nuggets and Tater Tots," Sergio looked at Nate and whispered, "Safer choice."

"Don't be so sure. Do you know what they grind up into those nuggets?"

The two boys moved farther down the line. "I wanted to tell Mrs. Bennett 'I'll have the grease feast' but I thought she'd whack me with that big metal spoon she's holding."

Nate looked around the cafeteria and nodded toward the back. "There's Cam and Stevie, let's sit with them."

"Hey, guys," Cam said as Nate and Sergio slipped into their seats. "Cool shirts."

Sergio threw his arms back proudly to show off the Real Madrid "Fly Emirates" emblem across his chest. "I figure we should wear championship shirts since we're going to have a championship team this season."

"Don't jinx it," Nate cautioned his teammate. "We haven't actually won a game yet. Remember?"

"Okay, okay, be Mr. Downer." Sergio motioned to Cam. "Pass the ketchup, will ya?"

Sergio squeezed the plastic ketchup bottle and a long, impolite sound echoed across the table.

"Was that you or the ketchup?" Nate teased. "I don't want you stinking up my lunch."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Out Of Bounds by Fred Bowen. Copyright © 2015 Fred Bowen. Excerpted by permission of Peachtree Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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