Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Note to the Reader

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pp. ix-x

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Prologue

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pp. 1-2

I’m sitting in the stands of our home court, sprawled in Section 5, dressed in street clothes. My senior season in college is almost over. It’s an odd place to be, in the bleachers looking down at the place that for four years held more of my life than anywhere else on this campus. From here, finally, I can see the court the way everybody else sees it. ...

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1. The Bubble

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pp. 3-19

My mother and my sixteen-year-old brother, Luke, and I were headed south, our blue minivan crammed so full of pillows, bedclothes, lamps, totes, and duffel bags that the rearview mirror was useless for anything except making sure Luke’s scruffy blond head was still poking through the clutter. ...

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2. I Want You to Want Me

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pp. 20-38

When I was in seventh grade I played for my junior high basketball squad in a March tournament at the local rec center. We lost to a team with shiny blue jerseys who called themselves the Johnstown Lady Hoopsters. ...

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3. A Night with the ’Cats

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pp. 39-59

The girl on the dance team was demonstrating a body roll. Olivia, Nicole Cooper (“Coop”), and I tilted our heads and squinted at her, puzzled, trying to figure out how she could move like that. Taylor was busy imitating, and she wasn’t bad. ...

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4. Heading Home

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pp. 60-79

Ashley made it through Night with the ’Cats, but she was hurting. The team had started to suspect something was wrong with her during our conditioning tests that fall. Two of the tests were to run a timed mile and a timed two-mile. We ran on the Greenway, a long, lightly forested loop around town. ...

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5. Wet Season

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pp. 80-99

A few weeks later, after consulting with Erin and Coach Katz, Coop quit the team. She had never felt like she belonged.
Mackenzie Lynch, then a sophomore, felt alienated in a different way. She watched Erin and Christina’s senior season from the sideline, growing increasingly frustrated. ...

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6. Knocked Out

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pp. 100-117

It happened at full speed, as injuries often do. During our last practice of the preseason of Olivia’s, Taylor’s, and my sophomore year, weeks after our drinking punishment, our hard, bruised bodies ached for real action. Rory and Sam had both committed, the recruiting-weekend disaster was behind us, and now it was time to get down ...

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7. Sisterhood of the Traveling Sweatpants

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pp. 118-132

January was always a hard month. It was like the Tuesday of basketball season. In November we were excited about the beginning of another year, another quest for a championship. In December we had a few days off around the holidays to look forward to. February and March hummed with the anticipation and adrenaline of the playoffs. ...

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8. A Postgame Surprise

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pp. 133-148

Appalachian State’s athletic program was famous because its football team had beaten Michigan a few years earlier, in 2007. What people outside of Boone didn’t talk about as much was App’s women’s basketball team, which was perennially at the top of our conference and incredibly tough to beat in its home gym. ...

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9. A Team in Transition

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pp. 149-167

Troy, our team psychologist, had basically given up on us. In our last group session he gave us a speech along the lines of: “I can’t do anything to fix this situation with your coach. I’m convinced that the problem does not lie with you. I’m not really sure what to tell you guys to do at this point. Let’s just try to get you through the season.” ...

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10. Our Bodies, Everyone’s Business

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pp. 168-185

It was like we were all freshmen again. Having a whole new coaching staff on campus meant that that year’s preseason was more than the usual display of our trying to prove how hard we had worked that summer. We were making first impressions, all of us, coaches and players. ...

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11. Students or Athletes?

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pp. 186-205

Olivia played in just four games that year. Every time she got jostled on the court, she felt her symptoms trickle back, and she grew timid. When Olivia was healthy, she played dirty. She usually pissed us off by throwing elbows or shoving too much in practice. But she wasn’t pissing anybody off anymore. ...

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12. FTP

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pp. 206-223

Aside from the year we got punished for letting a recruit get drunk, this final fall was the hardest preseason I had experienced. And I wasn’t having the toughest time of it. Olivia had officially left the team. Taylor’s body was not cooperating with her. After her labrum surgery at the beginning of the summer, ...

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13. The Popularity Contest

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pp. 224-242

January hit us like an unexpected screen from a 230-pound center. Classes started again. Our bodies felt old and tired and were starting to fall apart. We played eight games in those thirty-one days, five at home and three on the road, all of them high-stakes conference matchups. ...

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14. The Dream

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pp. 243-264

Coach Harris had no voice. She exhibited symptoms of laryngitis a few times every year, and they materialized again right before the eleven-team Southern Conference Tournament. Because we had won the regular season and earned an automatic bid to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 265-274

“Last practice ever,” Taylor murmured out the corner of her mouth as she jogged past me a few weeks later, holding out her palm for a low-five. Our eyes and hands met for just a second, one second in which the last five years flew through my mind like electricity. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 275-278

This book is a dream come true, but it was written at a time during which I needed a great deal of support. I received an overwhelming amount, and there are dozens of people who deserve more thanks than I could ever give them, but this is, at least, a start. ...

Notes

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pp. 279-284

Bibliography

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pp. 285-288