Congwer’s “parable” interweaves the lives of three adults (the local high school coach, the school’s custodian and a prominent local businessman) with the experiences of a highly ranked but underachieving high school basketball team. “Coach” has to sort through the advice he receives from a trusted friend and mentor who just happens to be a highly successful businessman along with the encouraging but somewhat confusing and befuddling comments from the school’s sage custodian. All the while the pressure is building upon him and his floundering team. Preseason “number one” hype is quickly fading as his team is beleaguered with selfish attitudes, personal issues and injuries. Add in the tension of the coach’s disintegrating marriage and family and the recipe for disaster is apparent.
Whatever you do, finish the book as many of the dangling story lines converge into an intriguing surprise ending.
Catch Phrases Worth Remembering
Coach Rocker continues to challenge his team to “Lead for God’s Sake” only to realize it is he who needs to learn how to “Lead for God’s Sake.” The obvious double meaning starts out as a blasphemous rendering of the phrase but evolves into a life-clarifying and life-guiding mantra.
How can local church sports outreach ministries use this book
I would recommend each church purchase a copy of this book to give to each of their high school and college age sports league participants instead of a trophy or other gift/award. Its writing is basic enough and geared to hook even those who don’t normally like to read. It would be a great book to be used as a discussion starter for high school and adult league post game discussions.
In addition, this would make a great “thank you” gift to all of your basketball volunteers and/or can be used as a mildly evangelistic gift to your area high school or college coaches.
Where to get the Book – Amazon.com
While the intended purpose of the book has to do with leadership, the leadership principles are not “in your face.” They are more observed than taught, which is consistent with how most basketball coaches operate and any coach will gain from the examples of the good and bad leadership modeled by coach Rocker. It sends the clear message that coaches will have more influence on their players by how they live and conduct themselves than by any other thing including winning.
This is a good book and one that will be used of God to influence many lives. I do recommend it for use in local church sports outreach. It is a good first start for the author but the principle characters were too “cliché” and simplistic. The plot also needs to be better developed for it to be considered great literature. In addition, it does a good bit of moralizing, but then it’s by-line is “a parable for finding the heart of leadership” and the moralizing should thus be expected. None-the-less it has a real appeal as can be observed by the following recommendation by Lou Holtz…
“This is a book I could not put down until I finished it. Every parent, coach, manager and leader should read it. I wish I had read it 30 years ago.”