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Sports as History

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The Black Bruins The Remarkable Lives of UCLA's Jackie Robinson, Woody Strode, Tom Bradley, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett
The Boys in the Boat Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Canyon Dreams A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation
Dust Bowl Girls
The Eagles of Heart Mountain A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America
Faster How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best
Full-Court Quest The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School Basketball Champions of the World
The Games A Global History of the Olympics
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Something in the Air American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics
The Three-Year Swim Club The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory
Wonder Girl The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias
The Black Bruins: The Remarkable Lives of UCLA's Jackie Robinson, Woody Strode, Tom Bradley, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett / James W. Johnson

The Black Bruins chronicles the inspirational lives of five African American athletes who faced racial discrimination as teammates at UCLA in the late 1930s. Best known among them was Jackie Robinson, a four???star athlete for the Bruins who went on to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball and become a leader in the civil rights movement after his retirement. Joining him were Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, and Ray Bartlett. The four played starring roles in an era when fewer than a dozen major colleges had black players on their rosters. This rejection of the "gentleman's agreement," which kept teams from fielding black players against all-white teams, inspired black Angelinos and the African American press to adopt the teammates as their own.

Washington became the first African American player to sign with an NFL team in the post-World War II era and later became a Los Angeles police officer and actor. Woody Strode, a Bruin football and track star, broke into the NFL with Washington in 1946 as a Los Angeles Ram and went on to act in at least fifty???seven full-length feature films. Ray Bartlett, a football, basketball, baseball, and track athlete, became the second African American to join the Pasadena Police Department, later donating his time to civic affairs and charity. Tom Bradley, a runner for the Bruins' track team, spent twenty years fighting racial discrimination in the Los Angeles Police Department before being elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics / Daniel Brown

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington's eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys' own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man's personal quest.

Canyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation / Michael Powell

Deep in the heart of northern Arizona, in a small and isolated patch of the vast 17.5-million-acre Navajo reservation, sits Chinle High School. Here, basketball is passion, passed from grandparent to parent to child. Rez Ball is a sport for winters where dark and cold descend fast and there is little else to do but roam mesa tops, work, and wonder what the future holds. The town has 4,500 residents and the high school arena seats 7,000. Fans drive thirty, fifty, even eighty miles to see the fast-paced and highly competitive matchups that are more than just games to players and fans.

Celebrated Times journalist Michael Powell brings us a narrative of triumph and hardship, a moving story about a basketball team on a Navajo reservation that shows how important sports can be to youths in struggling communities, and the transcendent magic and painful realities that confront Native Americans living on reservations. This book details his season-long immersion in the team, town, and culture, in which there were exhilarating wins, crushing losses, and conversations on long bus rides across the desert about dreams of leaving home and the fear of the same.

Dust Bowl Girls / Lydia Reeder

At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, began dreaming. Like so many others, he wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm, he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education if they would come play for his basketball team, the Cardinals.

Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices faced by their families, the women followed Babb and his dream. He shaped the Cardinals into a formidable team, and something extraordinary began to happen: with passion for the sport and heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach, they won every game.

For author Lydia Reeder, this is a family story: coach Sam Babb is her great-uncle. When her grandmother handed her a worn, yellowed folder that contained newspaper articles, letters, and photographs of Sam and the Cardinals, she said, "You might want to tell their story someday." Now, with extensive research and the gathered memories of the surviving Cardinals, she has.

Reeder lives in Colorado.

The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America / Bradford Pearson

In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain. Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, many established Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. Kabuki performances drew hundreds of spectators - yet there was little hope. That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp's high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools.

Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best / Neal Bascomb

They were the unlikeliest of heroes. Rene Dreyfus, a former top driver on the international race car circuit, had been banned from the best European teams - and fastest cars - by the mid-1930s because of his Jewish heritage. Charles Weiffenbach, head of the down-on-its-luck automaker Delahaye, was desperately trying to save his company as the world teetered toward the brink. And Lucy Schell, the adventurous daughter of an American multi-millionaire, yearned to reclaim the glory of her rally-driving days.

As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, these three misfits banded together to challenge Hitler's dominance at the apex of motorsport: the Grand Prix. Their quest for redemption culminated in a remarkable race that is still talked about in racing circles to this day - but which, soon after it ended, Hitler attempted to completely erase from history.

Bringing to life this glamorous era and the sport that defined it, Faster chronicles one of the most inspiring, death-defying upsets of all time: a symbolic blow against the Nazis during history's darkest hour.

Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School Basketball Champions of the World / Linda Peavy

Most fans of women's basketball would be startled to learn that girls' teams were making their mark more than a century ago - and that none was more prominent than a team from an isolated Indian boarding school in Montana. Playing like "lambent flames" across the polished floors of dance halls, armories, and gymnasiums, the girls from Fort Shaw stormed the state to emerge as Montana's first basketball champions. Taking their game to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, these young women introduced an international audience to the fledgling game and returned home with a trophy declaring them champions.World champions. And yet their triumphs were forgotten - until Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith chanced upon a team photo and embarked on a ten-year journey of discovery.

The Games: A Global History of the Olympics / David Goldblatt

Renowned sportswriter David Goldblatt has been hailed by the Wall Street Journal for writing "with the expansive eye of a social and cultural critic" In The Games Goldblatt delivers a magisterial history of the biggest sporting event of them all: the Olympics. He tells the epic story of the Games from their reinvention in Athens in 1896 to the present day, chronicling classic moments of sporting achievement from Jesse Owens to Nadia Com??neci, the Miracle on Ice to Usain Bolt. He goes beyond the medal counts to explore how international conflicts have played out at the Olympics, including the role of the Games in Fascist Germany and Italy, the Cold War, and the struggles of the postcolonial world for recognition. He also tells the extraordinary story of how women fought to be included on equal terms, how the Paralympics started in the wake of World War II, and how the Olympics reflect changing attitudes to race and ethnicity.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics / Deborah Riley Draper

Set against the turbulent backdrop of a segregated United States, sixteen black men and two black women were torn between boycotting the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany or participating. After all, they were representing a country that considered them second-class citizens and would compete in a country amidst a strong undercurrent of Aryan superiority and anti-Semitism.

Jesse Owens is the most recognized of the group for winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. Other winners include Jackie Robinson's brother Mack who won silver for the 200-meter race, and Cornelius Johnson, who led an American sweep in the high jump.

Capturing a powerful and untold piece of history, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice is also a celebration of the courage, commitment, and accomplishments of these talented athletes.

Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics / Richard Hoffer

Something in the Air is Richard Hoffer?s gripping sports narrative that tells the individual stories of the athletes who gathered in Mexico City in 1968, a year of dramatic upheaval around the world. Racial tensions were high on the U.S. Olympic team, where inflamed black athletes had to choose between demands for justice, on the one hand, and loyalty to country, on the other.?Although?basketball star Lew Alcindor (later to become the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) decided not to participate, heavyweight boxer George Foreman not only competed and won a gold medal but waved a miniature American flag at foreign judges. Sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos became as famous for their raised-fist gestures of protest as their speed on the track.

The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory / Julie Checkoway

In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians.

They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American, were malnourished and barefoot and had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. Their future was in those same fields, working alongside their parents in virtual slavery, known not by their names but by numbered tags that hung around their necks. Their teacher, Soichi Sakamoto, was an ordinary man whose swimming ability didn't extend much beyond treading water.

In spite of everything, including the virulent anti-Japanese sentiment of the late 1930s, in their first year the children outraced Olympic athletes twice their size; in their second year, they were national and international champs, shattering American and world records and making headlines from L.A. to Nazi Germany. In their third year, they'd be declared the greatest swimmers in the world, but they'd also face their greatest obstacle: the dawning of a world war and the cancellation of the Games. Still, on the battlefield, they'd become the 20th century's most celebrated heroes, and in 1948, they'd have one last chance for Olympic glory.

Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias / Don Van Natta Jr.

This is the extraordinary story of a nearly forgotten American superstar athlete.?

Despite attempts to keep women from competing Babe achieved All-American status in basketball and won gold medals in track and field at the Olympics.

One of the founders of the LPGA Babe won more consecutive tournaments than any golfer in history. At the height of her fame she was diagnosed with cancer and Babe would then take her most daring step of all? -- go public and try to win again with the hope of inspiring the world. A rollicking saga stretching across the first half of the the century Wonder Girl?is as fresh heartfelt and graceful as Babe herself.

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