by Neal Thompson
Author Neal Thompson has tapped the vein where sports and culture meet in the Swampland Footprint. Thompson's previous book, Driving With The Devil, covered the early history of NASCAR going back to its moonshining roots. Besides the stock car racing culture, sports in the South is largely defined by football.
Another writer named Wright Thompson inspired the unrelated Neal to write Hurricane Season. Wright's article on ESPN.com chronicled a high school football team from the New Orleans area named the John Curtis Christian School Patriots.
John Curtis is a small Christian school built by its namesake from the ground up. His son J.T. Curtis has one of the most important jobs on campus - head football coach. John Curtis has won numerous state championships over the years even though it employs a "no cut" policy for the team.
Hurricane Season expands upon Wright Thompson's article about how the team weathered Hurricane Katrina to win its 20th state title. Throughout the book, we read about the devastation, and everything that was lost. The school and the team became a beacon for hope, stability, and continuity for the players, the students, the faculty, and the parents.
J. T. Curtis lies at the heart of this story. He grew up watching his father build the school. He shepherded his father's dream of the school having a winning football program. Before the season that Katrina disrupted, John Curtis died. J.T. not only had to face Katrina, but he also had to lead the school, both as coach and principal, without his father's help.
Hurricane Season is a story of heroism. You grow to love the coaches, the families, and the players. In each case, you witness people rising to meet the demands of their circumstances.
In just two books, Neal Thompson has captured how the culture of sports is one and the same with the culture of the South. Swampland looks forward to his next.
- Jim Markel