Love, Basketball & Air Force One

The Rebounders: A Division 1 Basketball Journey and From the Corner of The Oval

First-time authors Amanda Ottaway and Beck Dorey-Stein are young women who have some things in common. They’re both jocks, Pennsylvania natives, and they wrote memoirs about their experiences in exclusive sectors.   

Ottaway, a western Pennsylvania native, earned a basketball scholarship to Davidson College in North Carolina. At Davidson, Ottaway becomes “Otto.” Otto arrives at Davidson the year after the school’s Steph Curry-led men’s team made its historic Elite Eight run in the NCAA basketball tournament. Consequently, Davidson became a national name. More than one person probably wondered: if the men’s team can do it, why not the women?

In The Rebounders: A Division 1 Basketball Journey, which is more Handmaid’s Tale than Love & Basketball, Otto pulls down the curtain on D 1 college basketball. Otto’s four years at Davidson weren’t carefree. Between practices, workouts and classes, there was barely time to sleep. When the players do sleep on the bus, some lie down in the aisle so they can stretch out their legs. The Rebounders is chock full of these details, everything you don’t see during March Madness. If there’s a villain or villains in Otto’s journey, it’s her coaches. There’s one particular coach who doesn’t allow the players to forget that they’re on scholarship, replaceable hired guns. The coach is attempting to motivate, but this tactic accomplishes exactly the opposite. The misdeeds aren’t quite Maryland football territory, but they’re ball park. The Rebounders is a must for anyone interested in college athletics.

After answering an advertisement on Craigslist, Beck Dorey-Stein, a relative recent college graduate, becomes a stenographer at the White House. Dorey-Stein, a native of suburban Philadelphia, is not a political animal by any means, but a job is a job, and it is the White House. There’s gotta be a story there, especially for an aspiring writer, and there is. Dorey-Stein doesn’t write much about politics in her From the Corner of The Oval. Instead, she writes about fun stuff, everything from travelling on Air Force One to playing pick-up basketball with her male colleagues to early morning hotel gym treadmill runs and seeing President Barack Obama on the adjacent machine.

Dorey-Stein runs a lot. Otto ran a lot too, but that was usually because her team was being punished. In one memorable episode, garbage pales were placed around the court so the players would have something to puke into. It often seems that while Davidson’s general student population was getting blotto, their women’s basketball team was doing suicides. And yes, a lot of Davidson players suffered injuries. There’s some vomiting in The Corner Of The Oval too, but that’s a result of the hard partying. Dorey-Stein and friends hit it hard – all over the world. More than anything else, Dorey-Stein writes about her romantic, ah, conflict. She has a boyfriend, but she pines for a silver-tongued White House senior staffer who’s already in a relationship. Dorey-Stein knows she’s behaving badly, but she proceeds. To her credit, she admits what most would not. When From The Corner of the Oval ended, I wanted more.

The Rebounders: A Division 1 Basketball Journey by Amanda Ottaway (University Of Nebraska Press)

From the Corner of The Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein (Spiegel & Grau)


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Jon Hart

Jon Hart is the author of Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures. He holds the Citi Field record for hawking the most pretzels during a single game.

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