Oftentimes we think we can choose our own path. But if you’re a writer, you know that sometimes stories choose you. This is definitely the case for Matthew Pierce and his first book, Ghosts in the Hills.
I remember chatting with Matthew over e-mails about this last year. He was writing a series on a high school football team from rural Alabama, following them from summer workouts to senior night. The Brewer Patriots had no town to support them, no newspaper to cover them and were weighted down by a reputation of being perennial losers. Nonetheless, he was there.
Despite being winless through their first eight games – not the easiest thing to chronicle – Matthew reached out to a handful of people and asked if they would be willing to send a brief note to pass along to the team. Here’s what I sent last October:
Although I cover basketball for a living, the essence of the team game is still the same. And when it comes to high school sports, there’s nothing better. I played high school basketball for four years, and by no means was the star of the team. But the memories I have of going to battle with my teammates – win or lose – stay with me today. As you grow older, you’ll realize that how you fare in high school sports won’t matter at all. Letterman jackets gather dust in your parents’ closet, while the ink from old newspaper clippings start to fade. But lacing ‘em up and cheering for your teammates in front of friends and family, that feeling never goes away.
As the season progressed, the number of players shrank, the coach’s job security became tenuous and the psyches of the remaining players were put to the test. And while you’ll have to read the book to find out the rest, know this: Everything that Friday Night Lights did for big-time Texas football, Ghosts in the Hills does for the stories that go untold.
Ghosts in the Hills is available now through Amazon for $12.