“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Playing Time: What Kids Really Think About Kids' Sports • YA nonfiction

Playing Time: What Kids Really Think About Kids' Sports
by Quinn Cotter
Just out! Apprentice House Young Adult nonfiction
By the age of 13, 73% of kids drop out of youth sports. Teenage author, Quinn Cotter, will help kids play better, play longer and have more fun!

Story:  Somewhere between The Bad News Bears and Field of Dreams, the realities of being a young athlete play out every day on fields across America. Almost everyone has experienced scoring the game winner, riding the pine, struggling with peer - as well as coach - and parent - pressure.
Young writer Quinn Cotter explores the dynamics of school and athletics, but from the unique perspective of the student-athlete. Playing Time: What Kids Really Think About Kids’ Sports returns focus to the players themselves. Cotter exposes the issues and adult behaviors that trouble kids and cause them to quit playing altogether. Playing Time helps adults lighten up; in return, kids will “play better, play longer, and smile more.”

“Quinn will teach you, provoke you, challenge you, and guide you to become a better parent, coach, teammate—even a better sports fan,” said former Orioles ace and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. “And he’ll make you laugh at familiar situations.”

Cotter touches all the bases. For coaches he warns that when they lose their temper, they also lose their players’ respect. Regarding parents, over-zealous folks should leave their own dreams of longed-for glory at home. And players themselves are advised to keep their priorities straight: school before sports.

“When parents get too involved, they reveal a lack of confidence in their kid, both on and off the field,” said Cotter. More than fifty million children participate in some form of youth sport, but nearly 73% will drop out by the time they are thirteen years old. “Any parent, coach, fan, or participant in youth sports should have this book in their library,” said Bob Bowlsby, Athletic Director at Stanford University. “Quinn’s real life experiences establish the foundation from which every youth sports program should be evaluated.”
Story-behind-the-story: Cotter wrote the first draft of Playing Time when he was just fifteen years old, but with ten years of experience as a student-athlete behind him. Now a seventeen-year-old senior at the Gilman School in Baltimore, Cotter plays varsity and Metro League baseball.

For years, Quinn would come home from games and practices with a lot on his mind. His mom gave him a shoebox and a pack of index cards and told him to jot down his thoughts and feelings. His dad said, “Quinn, you ought to write a book.” So he did.

By Christmas 2008, the note cards in the shoebox had become a manuscript. Proudly protected in Santa Claus wrapping paper, Quinn placed his manuscript under the tree as a Christmas gift for his parents.

Who is Quinn Cotter and what are his credentials?  The author explains:  "I've ridden the bench so the coach's klutzy kid could play and I've been a star. I have struck out with the bases loaded in the last inning and I have won a homerun derby. I have missed free throws that would have won a basketball game and pitched a two-hit shutout against one of the best teams in the country with Cal Ripken, Jr. watching in the stands. I've gotten home after practice at 9:30 pm and had to face four hours of homework. I have been abandoned by jealous friends. I have been cheered for my accomplishments and cursed out and called foul names by coaches. Kids may be inexperienced in sports and life, but we're not stupid. I've learned a lot from what I've seen and done in kids'sports."


Quinn Cotter Video: Game Winning Hit

Quinn Cotter media links: video, radio and print

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.


Julia Pitau said...

I thought this book was right on target for the intended audience. Having two children of my own who started out playing sports the summer before their Kindergarten year, with one continuing non-stop through his last year of high school, Quinn Cotter hits all the bases. The fantastic thing about this book is that it is useful for children/students, parents, and coaches. Also, I believe that a school student, who is injured and unable to participate during P.E., could use this book to write a report, as is sometimes required by a physical education teacher. The icing of this book is that it was written by a 15-year-old and applies to both male and female sports minded people regardless of age.

Picnic Rating: 5

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

M. Battista said...

Goal! Homerun! Touchdown! Whatever your sport, this one's a winner! I loved how it was both practical and personal. I know little about sports and was hoping to pass this along to an athlete, parent or coach for feedback before posting a review. Once I started reading I soon discovered that I didn't need to pass it along to someone else first. It made perfect sense even to someone like me. This would make a great gift for any coach or parent of a young athlete. There is a lot of wisdom within the pages of this slim book. I look forward to Quinn Cotter's next book. My only criticism is that the introduction and foreword were too long and even unnecessary. I already have several people in mind who will benefit from this book. And the best advice of all was the very last line- "ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS GO FOR ICE CREAM!"


Denair Elementary School Library
Denair, CA

dmuldawer said...

As I read this book, I often wished that it would delve deeper into psychological issues. I found myself appalled at the amount of time and energy that goes into kids' sports and the sacrifices that the entire family makes. Perhaps the reason so many kids leave organized sports by age 13 is because of the unreasonable time demands. And as one of the siblings sitting on the sidelines, I personally know the toll it can take on the non-athlete.

I also wonder about the kids who can't afford private coaching and special camps or who don't have the intelligence or parent committment to maintain grades and sports simultaneously.

Quinn Cotter writes a practical book about his experiences. It covers issues such as how to balance sports and schoolwork, and the social graces involved in being a team member, a coach, and a parent. It's not great literature and has no great insights, but it's a practical guide that parents, coaches, and kids involved in sports will appreciate.

As I said, there are many deeper issues to be explored; perhaps someone will take the concept of playing time to a different level.

Meanwhile, it is a practical book and kids will enjoy knowing that it was written by a fellow kid.

Picnic Basket Rating: 3

wordwarrior said...

I found the information in "Playing Time" very valuable to my student base and I am recommending it to the coaching staff here at Buhler High School.
Not only are Cotter's insights helpful to students, coaches and parents of kid's sports, but I feel that his lesson's can be applied to other area's of life. I can see a direct use even in job search. He takes time to explain how to assess and evaluate a coach and team for competitive play and this information would also be helpful to assess other situations. As a non fiction choice of reading for students, I give Cotter's "PlayingTime" a high 5!

EShay said...

I found this book to be quite educational. It is interesting to read how a 15-year-old truly views sports. Young people would find it to be honest and interesting. There are very few books written by teens and that makes this a definite draw.
As a non-athlete, but a supporter of athletes, I learned a great deal about how athletes think and cope with expectations and tribulations.
How will students athletes who are not blessed with financial resources view this book? I am not sure they will be able to relate to the author's experiences.
At times I thought Cotter would have benefited from a bit more revising. However, at these times I would just remind myself that he is a youth and that is part of what makes this book so special.
I give it a 4.

linda said...

What a great book by such a young author. When you read the book, you feel as if you are listening in to a conversation. Quinn Cotter is to be admired for his perserverance and writing ability. What an inspiration. I am not sure about the audience. It might be a good book for adolescents to read and realize that other kids out there are going through the same kinds of pressures they are. Coaches and parents should read it to get a perspective of what it is like to be a player.

I give it a 5!

Beth said...

Before reading this book, I thought this was going to be more from a child's point of view for a child. I do not believe this book's tone is from a child at all and its difficult to believe that most of it was not edited by an adult. Most of the information I felt was common sense. I can't imagine that it is going to reach a large target audience, whether that be child or coach.
Although the information within is wise and valid, I didn't feel that it was anything new.
I do not believe that it would capture my middle schoolers' attention as a non fiction book.
I would put this in my picnic basket as a 2.

juli said...

I must confess-I did not read this entire book. After reading the first thirty or so pages I knew I wanted my brother and sister-in-law to read this book. Their son, my nephew, is ten years old and has had several different sports/coaching experiences in his short time. Not all of them good-including his first time this year with contact football. I am glad I passed the book to my brother-he read it in one sitting on a recent business flight and was really impressed. He is already recommending the book to many of the other team parents and is even thinking about asking the coaches to pick up a copy. After having witnessed one of my nephew's coaches announce loud enough to be heard by families on the sidelines that he didn't want a certain player going in because he wanted to win-REad the Book!!!!! Atletes of any age and ability deserve the best.

My brother's rating: 5

Dawn said...

This book was full of practical, common sense advice that, from what I've observed of some parent/coaches, is perhaps not so common sense. Quinn did a great job of explaining balance in sports and academics and priorities. I give this a 5!