What exactly does a high school basketball coach do? Roll the balls out? Draw some Xs and Os on the whiteboard/ clipboard thingy? Rehearse halftime speeches? Perception vs Reality.
Marc Skelton has made teaching and coaching his calling. From choosing to teach at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx to the relationships he builds with his colleagues, students, and players, he is all in, every day. His book touches on the multitude of tasks required to build a successful high school program, but this narrative does not end there. He weaves his personal journey to teaching and coaching, his thoughts on the NYC public school system (especially the benefits of a small school environment), and the challenges of working in the Bronx. Skelton does all this while telling the story of the 16-17 basketball season. His voice is many things: literary, resilient, determined, but most of all, honest.
My only criticism is that shorter chapters may take away from the reader being able to focus on a single narrative. But the messages of the story come across loud and clear.
Although Skelton has succeeded in terms of wins and losses, that is hardly what this book is about. Pounding the Rock should serve as a call-to-action for lawmakers, a testament to quality teaching, and an inspiration to fellow coaches.
Personal Note: I did twenty years in a high school dugout in a suburban school in California, so I understand just a tiny bit of the day-to-day struggles and joys of coaching. I would like to say kudos to Coach Skelton. Congrats on your efforts and I wish you much future success.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, Doubleday Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.