Thursday, September 18, 2014

MIKE LUPICA! I Can Check This Goal Off My Proverbial Bucket List. Proud of @FairfieldU For Hosting This Writer

For almost a decade I've been a huge fan of Mike Lupica's middle school YA novels. Why? There's a back story. When I was working on my dissertation at Syracuse University and began mentoring a young man from Somalia who was struggling with his reading, I used a gift card from my sister to buy Heat - an act of paying it forward. The kid was on the baseball team, but frustrated that his relocation to the US didn't provide the necessary skills for him to pass state examinations. He wanted to achieve, but reading and writing were too new to him.

The young man read the book by Lupica, however, and simply said to me, "This is the only book I have ever read from cover to cover." Shakespeare, Golding, and Hemingway weren't accessible to his literacy, but Lupica wrote sports texts that kept him reading. They made him want to read more. For this, and this alone, I quickly became a fan.

I first met Mike Lupica through my cousin's Hoops4Hope program where I learned he was a tremendous supporter of global literacy. Late last week, however, when buying books for the dual enrollment students from Bassick at the University bookstore, I noticed a pile of Lupica texts on a table with a small note saying he was doing a book-signing. I took a photo and sent it to Mark. Mark let him know I would be attending his event. I wished I knew of his presence sooner so I could better spread the word.

It wasn't the only one, however, at the signing as the Stags Athletic Department, including Coach Sydney Johnson, were also in attendance to greet the prolific sports writer and advocate for athletes who read. It was an amazing opportunity and I'm so glad the bookstore included CWP-Fairfield in welcoming Mike Lupica to campus.  The man has many friends at Fairfield University and I am thankful he lent his valuable time to our community.

Now, I'm going back to reading Fantasy League.

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