Title: THE TASTE OF TURF
Genre: MG Contemporary Fiction
Word Count: 52,000
Twelve-year-old Beth Painter is in love…with football. From Monday night games to coaching alongside her dad, she can’t get enough. But the more she scrimmages with her twin brother, Brock and his teammates, the deeper her desire grows to play for real. In The Taste of Turf, she takes her passion off the sidelines: Beth dons a helmet and joins the team. For the first time, her dad isn’t the coach and she has the opportunity to prove her skills on her own merits.
Coach Kotch welcomes every player to their small team. Beth couldn’t be happier until reality smacks her over the head. The boys she has counted her friends band together to show her how rough football can get. At school, wild rumors fly through the halls about the new girl football player. Things get worse when Coach makes her reserve kicker. Beth can't kick, and Coach refuses to acknowledge her real skills. She has a better arm and can run faster than most of the boys, including Brock. Facing opposition both on and off the field, her chance of getting real game time looks bleak. Beth vows to sit on the bench until she gets a chance to play, no matter how long that takes.
I am a member of SCBWI, Night Writers San Luis Obispo, and a lifelong Fourty-Niners fan through the good times and the bad. The Taste of Turf won first place in the 2012 Lillian Dean First Page Contest.
First 250 words:
Chapter 1 – The Opposition
Dad has always said we should turn our disadvantages into advantages. So far, I was trying to keep from getting a concussion.
With a grunt, I got up on my feet and adjusted my pads. I put my mouthpiece back in and welcomed the now familiar taste of grass and dirt. Determined to survive practice, I hurried over to the line of scrimmage.
“Remember, Runt, you wanted to play,” said my twin brother, Brock, from across the line.
I wanted to tell him to shove it. Instead, I took a bigger bite of my grass-stained mouthpiece. He was right. All my friends tried to talk me out of playing, but I love football. The leathery new ball smell, the strategy, fake out, touchdowns, I love everything about it. As far back as I can remember, the game has been part of my life.
“Down!” yelled Tank, my side’s quarterback for the practice game.
I got set in my stance and stared into the blue eyes so like my own. My much larger twin sneered at me. As soon as the ball snapped, he’d be headed right through me. I was at a distinct disadvantage being the smallest kid and only girl on the team.
The clash of plastic on plastic echoed in my ears. My mouthpiece flew up in the air and got a fresh dose of grassy earth as Brock and Bubba again brought me down. I’ve spent three hours a day for the last two weeks with my brother and his friends tackling me. The dizzying sight of blue sky quickly replaced by green field had become mundane. My bruises had bruises and I loved every frustrating minute.