Sunday, March 9, 2014

Layups with Lincoln by Brad Garrett

In preparing for a presentation tomorrow night on blogging and book reviews, I realized I haven’t reviewed an important book – one that hits very close to home. Last year my colleague Brad Garrett realized a life-long dream in writing his own book, Layups with Lincoln. In doing so he combined two of his passions – sports and history.

I’ve taught with Brad for fifteen years. Through the years I have seen his students develop a passion for the presidents. He has a “Presidents’ Fair” each year where the kids share what they have researched. To walk into his classroom is to walk into a history museum with memorabilia every spot you turn. When students leave his classroom they can tell you not only that their teacher loves history, but what they now love about it too. As a person with a degree in history, I celebrate this.

Brad is also a huge sport nut – whether he is cheering his beloved Cardinals to victory or celebrating the many teams of girls basketball that he coached over the years. What I always admired about his coaching style was that he seemed to see each player’s potential and worked to nurture it. He let his players’ talents shine.

It was with delight when I heard that Brad was combining his two passions with a new one – writing. After asking his students to write for years, he picked up the pen too. And over breaks and weekends he wrote out Layups with Lincoln. He said it started with a dream he had and he woke up, went downstairs and began. The story follows a boy named Blaine who moves with his mom to live with his uncle A.B.E. Coincidently, his uncle resembles Abe Lincoln and happens to have a passion for history as well. Through the book he weaves a friendship story with lessons on history and sports as well.

Brad has written three books in his Playing with Patriots series so far:  Layups with Lincoln, Fastballs with Franklin, and Jogging with Jefferson. I’ve enjoyed the series and love watching his students get excited about what he is writing next. I think the true lesson he is sharing with his students is that there is always time to follow your dreams.