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State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation

State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation

by Melissa Isaacson


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Set against a backdrop of social change during the 1970s, State is a compelling first-person account of what it was like to live through both traditional gender discrimination in sports and the joy of the very first days of equality—or at least the closest that one high school girls’ basketball team ever came to it.

In 1975, freshman Melissa Isaacson—along with a group of other girls who’d spent summers with their noses pressed against the fences of Little League ball fields, unable to play—entered Niles West High School in suburban Chicago with one goal: make a team, any team. For Missy, that turned out to be the basketball team.

Title IX had passed just three years earlier, prohibiting gender discrimination in education programs or activities, including athletics. As a result, states like Illinois began implementing varsity competition—and state tournaments—for girls’ high school sports.

At the time, Missy and her teammates didn’t really understand the legislation. All they knew was they finally had opportunities—to play, to learn, to sweat, to lose, to win—and an identity: they were athletes. They were a team.

And in 1979, they became state champions.

With the intimate insights of the girl who lived it, the pacing of a born storyteller, and the painstaking reporting of a veteran sports journalist, Isaacson chronicles one high school team’s journey to the state championship. In doing so, Isaacson shows us how a group of "tomboys" found themselves and each other, and how basketball rescued them from their collective frustrations and troubled homes, and forever altered the course of their lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781572842663
Publisher: Agate
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 573,746
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Melissa Isaacson is an award-winning sportswriter, author, and public speaker. In more than thirty years on the job, she has covered every major US sports championship as well as the Olympics. She has written for numerous publications, including long tenures at such institutions as ESPN and the Chicago Tribune. She was the Tribune’s first woman columnist and beat writer on the Bulls and Bears, and she covered the Michael Jordan–led Bulls over their six NBA titles. She is currently on the faculty of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and lives in the Chicago area.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Our Coach

Chapter 2: “Well, I guess I’ll go try sports”

Chapter 3: Grovers and Wooders and Billy Schnurr

Chapter 4: Inappropriate Cheering and the Half-Court Shot

Chapter 5: “Son, son, get up!”

Chapter 6: New Beginnings, New Rituals

Chapter 7: Shirley’s Arm, Bridget’s Face, and Mighty Hinsdale South

Chapter 8: Dark Secrets

Chapter 9: Fun with Concussions and Those Weird Lumps

Chapter 10: Addition by Subtraction

Chapter 11: Having It All

Chapter 12: The Mighty Susies and Other Technicalities

Chapter 13: The Ultimate Slap

Chapter 14: Saturday Night Fever and a Champaign Hangover

Chapter 15: Big Whip

Chapter 16: Safe Haven

Chapter 17: Earl’s Girls

Chapter 18: Dreidl, Dreidl, Dreidl

Chapter 19: Let It Snow

Chapter 20: Perfect Shmerfect

Chapter 21: Joy Is . . .

Chapter 22: Why Not Us?

Chapter 23: April Fools


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