MUCKERS: When Your Town is About to Crumble, You Dig Deeper into the Muck and Find a Way to Win ~Sandra Neil Wallace
MUCKERS is based on a true story. This mighty football team did blast through the muck and succeed at a time when no one thought it was possible and the odds were not in their favor. Although the story takes place in a fictional town, it is based on the journals and letters of the former High School principal, letters from the coach, and lots of newspaper stories. The author truly did her homework and was able to interview some of the key players.
So here we are in an Arizona mining town in the 40’s and the rumor has it that the mine, the town, and the school are about to close down; there will be no company town or services and only some of the copper miners will be hired at other locations. The town is built up the side of the mountain and the mines are deep within the earth. The football field is slag and it is ruff and often muddy when the rains arrive. There are only 60 students left at the school and very few seniors. The school is racially mixed and that is not something that happened in the 40’s. But the players (just 12 at the win) had to make do with what they had,such as rag tag uniforms and no training equipment. They were the smallest team in the state – physically. They needed to win to count for something and to make their lives matter.
Add into the story MUCKERS (that is the team name and it is part of the ore sorting process) that the quarterback is not being fed by his drunken father, it is extremely hot, helmets are vintage and making the best of it, the Principal is fired for being a Communist and the coach dies just a few games before the playoffs. Many people do not think they have a chance and this team is ready to set the world on fire.
Sandra Neil Wallace was an ESPN reporter who discovered in a small museum, the beginnings of her research in a box which had been dropped off and the curator could not decide what to do with it. It took Wallace awhile to switch careers and stop moving around to tackle this story and put it into a book form. It is very inspiring and how these young students figure out how to survive, be comrades and winners is a remarkable piece of history.
The book is written a bit like Wallace is the announcer calling the game plays and insights, and it took me a bit to get into her rhythm, but I think sports fans of all ages would not have much difficulty. MUCKERS is a very worthwhile reading adventure.