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The Hurricanes : One High School Team's Homecoming After Katrina
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina pummeled the lower end of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, a peninsula housing one of the nation's most isolated, vulnerable, and vital counties. A year later several ravaged communities came together to form South Plaquemines High. Kids who were former rivals defiantly nicknamed their football team the Hurricanes and made the 2006 state playoffs. In 2007, South Plaquemines set its sights on a state championship. The Hurricanes used a trailer as a makeshift locker room and lifted weights in a destroyed gym that had no electricity. For the players, many of them still living in FEMA trailers, football offered a refuge. Bestselling author Jer� Longman spent two seasons following the team. In The Hurricanes, the team's journey provides a lens through which to view the legacy of Katrina, the cycle of poverty in rural America, and the attempt to maintain traditions in the face of uncertainty. Football is a familiar remnant of the way things used to be-and a sign of hope in a place of disaster.
A year after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the lower end of New Orleans' Plaquemines Parish, a peninsula housing one of the nation's most isolated and vulnerable counties, students from several demolished area schools set aside their rivalries at newly created South Plaquemines High. Cyril Crutchfield Jr., former coach at Port Sulphur High, took over the new school's football team-called, naturally, the Hurricanes-and led a ragtag group of players, living in FEMA trailers and lifting weights in a crumbling gymnasium, to the 2006 state playoffs. In 2007, the Hurricanes made another bid for the state championship, and New York Times sports writer Longman (Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back) was granted exclusive access to every down. The result is an unflinching and often unflattering chronicle that reads like the series of newspaper articles it began as. It's clear that Longman, a native Louisianan, immersed himself in the local culture, and his insistence on providing political and social context makes this much more than a sports book. Unfortunately, Logman gets bogged down in that context ( as in nearly 20 pages on oyster farming), trying to make a big story-full of heart, sacrifice and the kind of American stories for which "inspired by" movies are made-even bigger.
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August 24, 2008
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