by Stephen James Poppoon book_printbook : Fiction  |  Rev. ed
Page-turning fiction about a college soccer team in 1969   (2012-12-24)
The "Chiefs" of the book title are five young men from a championship high school soccer team who enroll at the same college so they can continue playing their beloved sport as teammates. The book is written as a diary of the boys' first semester at college, primarily from the point of view of Andrew "Pappy" Paxton, the high school team's brainy, level-headed captain with awesome kicking skills. Painfully shy, Andrew is tongue-tied around girls, and remains forever in the shadow of his handsome, athletic, outgoing but hot-headed best friend, Brian Barrett. The two boys room together in a college dorm, where Andrew's role consists mostly of watching the parade of Brian's female admirers come and go.
From there, the author gives a detailed, day-by-day account of the Chiefs' first months as college students and teammates on the struggling soccer team. All their games are thoroughly and engagingly described--and, while I'm no soccer expert, I got caught up in the games' drama, and I imagine knowledgeable soccer fans would appreciate those passages even more than I did.
Along the way, Andrew gets involved in two other sports, football and karate--I won't tell how--and his growing proficiency in those pursuits is also vividly detailed, which helps make this book an exciting, page-turning experience for all readers who love a good yarn, but especially readers who love sports. If you're not a jock, though, never fear: plenty of other stuff happens to the boys and their friends: dates, romances, frat parties, science-lab hijinks, fist fights, drunken exploits, a panty raid(!)--and, adding to the drama, serious (sometimes life-threatening) illnesses and injuries. The book is so action-packed that, by the end, the reader can hardly believe that only a few months have passed!
Anyone who's been to college, as an athlete or not, will be taken back to those days of being away from home for the first time--all the fun, freedom, and exhilaration, but also the homesickness, insecurity, and occasional loneliness of figuring out who you are as you transition to adulthood.
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