Cover image for The beautiful game : sixteen girls and the soccer season that changed everything
The beautiful game : sixteen girls and the soccer season that changed everything
Littman, Jonathan, 1958-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Avon Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 286 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV944.5 .L58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



More than seven million girls now play soccer in America, Mia Hamm has become a role model for young girls striving to be the best, and Sports Illustrated chose the U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer Team as their "Athlete of the Year" 1999.

In The Beautiful Game, author Jonathan Littman tells the amazing story of Santa Rosa's Thunder, a former rag-tag team of girls who -- through the discipline and determination of their coach -- went on to become champions in soccer and in life. Packed with moving insights into the psychology of adolescent girls, The Beautiful Game dramatically shows us -- through the prism of one remarkable team -- how soccer can affect the hearts and minds of young women.

Author Notes

Jonathan Littman is the author of three previous books, including The Fugitive Game and The Watchman, and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. A former college soccer player (on Berkeley's nationally ranked NCAA playoff squad), he is the father of two young daughters. He lives in the Bay Area.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this inspirational true story of the struggles of an underdog girls' soccer team, 22-year-old college All-American and rookie coach Emiria Salzmann sets the tone early, "Why do anything if you don't do it 100 percent?" Emiria, demanding, cold, and forceful, gradually earns the girls' respect as she diligently works at building a first-rate team, teaching classic, possession-style soccer. It isn't easy. Obstacles include bickering parents, second-guessing ex-coaches, and her own inexperience. Yet, by the end of the season, the Santa Rosa Thunder claim victory. This is an exciting book, filled with team spirit, similar to In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle (1994). Littman's physical descriptions of the girls can be annoying, e.g., Shannon is a "tall, chocolate-skinned girl with the olive-shaped eyes of a doe," but he successfully blends his scrutiny of the different roles gender plays among athletes, parents, and coaches and the multiple benefits of sports participation for girls in their early teenage years. A sure hit for soccer players, teenage athletes, parents, and coaches. --Brenda Barrera

Library Journal Review

Littman, an investigative journalist who has written two books on computer hackers, takes his title here from Brazilian soccer great Pele, who described soccer as "That beautiful game I love so well." In this excellent book, Littman describes what happens when a former college soccer star becomes the coach of a rather nondescript girls' soccer team in Santa Rosa, CA, and tries to lead the team to a championship, a goal they have never achieved. In this well-written, readable story, Littman follows the Santa Rosa Thunder closely throughout the season, detailing the highs and lows and showing that the difference in intensity between men's and women's sports is becoming blurredÄthe coaching techniques of the Thunder coach appear to be as strict as those of many men's coaches. This fine book deserves wide readership among both young female athletes and their parents. Recommended for public and school libraries.ÄWilliam O. Scheeren, Hempfield Area Sr. H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 Tryoutsp. 4
2 Coachp. 17
3 Catherine's Choicep. 23
4 Pepto-Bismolp. 28
5 The Playerp. 38
6 Angela's Scorep. 52
7 Central Magicp. 59
8 Keeperp. 75
9 The Fabulous Fivep. 87
10 Soccer Dadp. 100
11 Trustp. 111
12 Sidelinesp. 121
13 Arizona or Bustp. 136
14 Beating the Refp. 145
15 T Rexp. 153
16 El Ninop. 162
17 Catherine's Commitmentp. 170
18 Bug Eyesp. 179
19 Growing Painsp. 191
20 Round Onep. 200
21 Cassie's Choicep. 214
22 Miraclesp. 224
23 Last Ritesp. 236
24 The Second Stringerp. 247
25 Overtimep. 257
Epiloguep. 273
Acknowledgmentsp. 283