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My Losing Season [Format Kindle]

Pat Conroy

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chapter 1

Before First Practice

It was on the morning of October 15, 1966, that the final sea-son officially began. For a month and a half, my teammates and I had gathered in the field house to lift weights, do isometric exercises, and scrimmage with each other. Right off, I could tell our sophomores were special and were going to make our team faster, scrappier, and better than the year before. In the heat of September, there was a swiftness and feistiness to the flow of these pickup games that was missing in last year's club. My optimism about the coming season lifted perceptibly as I observed my team beat up on each other in the vagrancy of our uncoached and unmonitored scrimmages.

I could feel the adrenaline rush of excitement begin as I donned my cadet uniform in the dark, and it stayed with me as I marched to mess with R Company. I could barely concentrate on the professors' voices in my classes in Coward Hall as I faced the reality of the new season and stared at the clock with impatience. It was my fourth year at The Citadel and the fourth time October 15 had marked the beginning of basketball practice. Mel Thompson was famous for working his team hard on the first day and traditionally ran us so much that the first practice was topped off by one of us vomiting on the hardwood floor.

I made my way to the locker room early that afternoon because I wanted some time to myself to shoot around and think about what I wanted to accomplish this season. Four of my teammates were already dressed when I entered the dressing room door. The room carried the acrid fragrance of the past three seasons for me, an elixir of pure maleness with the stale smell of sweat predominant yet blended with the sharp, stinging unguents we spread on sore knees and shoulders, Right Guard deodorant spray, vats of foot powder to ward off athlete's foot, and deodorant cakes in the urinals. It was the powerful eau de cologne of the locker room. I realized that my life as a college athlete was coming to its inevitable end, but I did not know that you had to leave the fabulous odors of youth behind when you hurried out into open fields to begin life as an adult.

As I entered the room, I waved to Al Beiner, the equipment manager. He and his assistant Joe "Rat" Eubanks were making sure that the basketballs were all inflated properly. Carl Peterson, another assistant, had just returned with a cartful of freshly laundered towels, still warm to the touch.

"The Big Day," Al said. He was reserved and serious and considered the players juvenile and frivolous. Al's presence was priestlike, efficient.

"Senior year," Rat said. "It all comes together for the big guy this year, right, Pat?"

Joe Eubanks was the only man on campus who called me "the big guy." Five feet five inches tall, he was built with the frail bones of a tree sparrow. His size humiliated him but his solicitousness to the players made him beloved in the locker room. Joe hero-worshiped the players, a rarity at The Citadel. His wide-eyed appreciation of me reminded me of the looks my younger brothers gave me. My brothers thought I was the best basketball player in the world, and I did nothing to discourage this flagrant misconception.

When I began undressing, Carl brought over a clean practice uniform and a white box containing a pair of size 91Ú2 Converse All Star basketball shoes. Carl wore gold stars for his brilliant academic work and moved quietly among the players, silent as a periwinkle.

As I sat down to open the new box of shoes, Joe Eubanks slipped up behind me and began massaging my neck.

"Still hurt, Pat?" Joe asked. "It's been two years now." My neck had been sore since Dick Martini knocked me unconscious in a practice game.

Behind me Carl rumbled by with another load for the laundry room. Stepping out of the equipment office, Al warned us not to take our shoes out unless we signed for them. Joe brought a box of tape to Coach Billy Bostick, the mustachioed seventy-year-old trainer who taped Doug Bridges's ankles as Danny Mohr waited his turn.

Jim Halpin sat to my right, struggling to put on the grotesque knee brace which supported his ruined leg.

"Still happy about your choice of colleges, Jim?" I asked.

"This fucking place sucks," Jimmy answered as I knew he would. For four years, all conversation between Jim and me began with this withering mantra.

"Tell me what you really think, Jimmy, don't hold back," I said.

"Conroy, Halpin says the same damn thing every day, year after year," Danny said, sitting at the last locker, both his ankles taped.

"Thanks for pointing that out, Root," Bob Cauthen said.

"Fuck you, Zipper," Danny said, not even looking at Bob. Danny we called "Root" because he was not much of a leaper for a big man and stayed "rooted" on the ground beneath the basket. Bob was called "Zipper" by Danny because he was long and skinny. He was given that name by a heckler from Georgia Southern, and it stuck.

"Don't you love the fellowship on this team?" I said. "Can't you feel the brotherhood? The coming together of a group of guys who can never be broken or defeated?"

"Conroy," said John DeBrosse, unbuttoning his uniform shirt as he approached his locker. "Speak so us poor peasants can understand you. I got to carry a dictionary around to understand what your sorry ass is saying."

"Thank you, Lord, for directing my path toward The Citadel," I said. "I love this place, Lord. I truly love this place. I've found myself a home."

"This fucking place sucks," Jimmy muttered to himself.

"You're onto something, Halpin," Dave "Barney" Bornhorst, a wide-bodied forward from Ohio, said. "Keep working on the details."

Danny said, "I had scholarships to Davidson, NC State, Wake Forest. Do I go to any of those great places? Oh, no. I come to El Cid so I can spend my life with Muleface."

I looked to the door, watching for the sudden appearance of our coach. "Be careful, Danny."

Joe Eubanks came through the locker room. "Twenty minutes to get dressed and on the floor."

"Eat me, Rat," Bob said.

"Don't irritate me, Cauthen," Joe said, putting his tiny fist against Bob's chin.

"Make me laugh, Rat," Bob said.

"Leave Rat alone, Zipper," Danny called down from his locker.

Bob stuck up a middle finger at Danny and said, "Eat a big hairy one, Root."

"What a team," Jimmy Halpin said, shaking his head sadly. "This fucking place sucks."

The new assistant coach, Ed Thompson, came into the locker room and walked down the straight line of lockers, squeezing our shoulders or slapping our butts, whispering words of encouragement. A sweet-faced, soft-spoken man, he looked like an aging Boy Scout as he imparted his own enthusiasm about the beginning of the new season.

"Let's get ready to go, boys. Let's win it all this year. This is the year for us. Can you feel it, boys? Tell me now. Let's get on out there."

After he spoke to each of us, he retreated from the locker room like an ambassador for a third-world nation intimidated by the hauteur of the Court of St. James's. "Little Mel," as we called him, was intimidated by us still and did not feel comfortable interacting with us quite yet.

"Why'd Little Mel take this job?" Danny asked the room.

"He just lucked out," Bridges said.

"What a sinking ship," Bob said.

"Hey, none of that, Cauthen," DeBrosse said. "We're going to have a great team this year. None of this negative shit. Leave that in the barracks."

"Who are you, the fucking Gipper?" Bob answered.

Danny Mohr finished lacing his shoes and said, "I like Little Mel. What in the hell did he see in Muleface?"

"He just wanted to coach All-Americans like you, Mohr," Cauthen said.

"Eat me, Zipper," Danny said, again shooting Bob the finger.

"Can't you feel the team jelling?" I said. "Feel the camaraderie. Feel the never-say-die spirit. Nothing'll ever get between this band of brothers."

DeBrosse said, "Get the dictionary. Conroy's moving his lips again."

Rat appeared suddenly at the door and said, "Muleface left his office. Hurry up. He's on his way."

There was a headlong scramble of all of us as we raced for the door that opened to the floor. The sophomores had not spoken a word. It was their first day on the varsity team and they were nervous and mistrustful.

"This fucking place sucks," Halpin said, then moved out toward the sounds of boys shooting around, limping in his knee brace.

chapter 2

First Practice

There was a tension in the gym among the players when the first practice was about to begin. We were more serious as we took jump shots, awaiting the appearance of the coaching staff at exactly 1600 hours. DeBrosse hit eight jump shots in a row from the top of the key as I admired the perfection of his form and the articulation of his follow-through. The net coughed as the ball swished through again and again. It was the loveliest sound in a shooter's world. Bridges and Zinsky both practiced long-range jumpers from the corners. Everyone had his favorite spots to get to when shooting around before practice. The managers were feeding all of us retrieved balls as I caught sight of our two coaches, both named Thompson, skirting the bleachers on the way toward the court. Mel was talking quietly to his new assistant, and we wondered aloud if "Little Mel" had any idea what he had gotten himself into. Mohr believed that Mel Thompson was as charming in hiring ne...

From Publishers Weekly

"Loss is a fiercer, more uncompromising teacher, coldhearted but clear-eyed in its understanding that life is more dilemma than game, and more trial than free pass," writes bestselling author Conroy in his first work of nonfiction since The Water Is Wide (1972). Conroy is beloved for big, passionate, compulsively readable novels propelled by the emotional jet fuel of an abusive childhood. The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides and Beach Music are each informed by a knowledge of pain and heartache taught to him by a Marine pilot father whose nickname was "the Great Santini." Here, in a re-creation of the losing basketball season Conroy and his team endured during his senior year at the Citadel, 1966- 1967, Conroy gives readers an intimate look at how suffering can be transformed to become a source of strength and inspiration. "I was born to be a point guard, but not a very good one," he admits. Drawing on extensive interviews with his teammates, he chronicles, game by game, their talent and his sheer determination and grit. In Conroy's hands, sports writing becomes a vehicle to describe the love and devotion that can develop between young men. Toward the end of this moving work, Conroy explains that writing books became "the form that praying takes in me." But readers will see how basketball can also be a way of reaching for something finer than a winning score. What emerges is a portrait of a young man who isn't a soldier but a knight with a great and chivalrous heart. Anyone who was a son or knows a son will be touched by this book.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1099 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 418 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0553381903
  • Editeur : Cornerstone Digital (6 juillet 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003V4ASN6
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°85.320 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  233 commentaires
131 internautes sur 132 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Lacerating. . . 9 juin 2004
Par Ronald Scheer - Publié sur Amazon.com
There's a scene in a 1970s movie in which Gene Hackman tries to grind up a broken wine glass in a garbage disposal. Reading this book is a lot like that.
I picked up "My Losing Season" not as a great fan of Pat Conroy or as a former athlete. I was attracted more by the theme of loss and its lessons. And I expected a different personal story than the one Conroy tells. The losing basketball season in his last year as a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston, SC, is a pretext for a much deeper theme - survival in the face of humiliation.
And it's not the losses of the games that are humiliating. On the one hand is the brutal and unrelenting contempt of his marine colonel father, a child abuser and wife beater. On the other hand is the withering scorn of Conroy's arbitrary and capricious coach, Mel Thompson. Both, in Conroy's account, do their best to beat the spirit out of the boy who has grown into an indomitable (though undersized and modestly talented) point guard for his team. And all of this takes place in the regimented, fierce, all-male environment of The Citadel in the 1960s, where incoming boys are routinely broken by the merciless hazing of their upperclassmen.
Humiliation is a much more difficult subject than loss to deal with. Loss leaves scars, but humiliation remains an open wound, and in writing about it there is the risk of slipping into the tug of war between self-pity and self-blame. Conroy takes us there sometimes, and those are the parts of his story that are lacerating. But win or lose, the ups and downs of the season are fascinating and the accounts of the games are thrilling. As a writer, he has a gift for hustling the reader with suspense and drama and sudden shifts of mood. As an observer of character, he vividly brings to life the individual boys who make up the team. As someone deeply wounded, he is able to freely and convincingly express the many articulations of the heart - especially love, admiration, and gratitude.
Once I started into this book, I could not put it down. It kept me reading late into the night. And when I wasn't reading, it filled my thoughts, as I'm sure it will for a long time. It's a troubling book that wants to resolve a host of dark memories. And it may well want to show the reader how to do the same. I'm not sure that it's completely successful in either regard. And maybe that's the point. It's enough to recast humiliation as loss. That is a wound that can eventually heal.
68 internautes sur 71 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Does honesty have a season? 31 août 2003
Par Satyabodhi Densmore - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This is a well-written book for anyone who ever experienced failure or the fear of failure while trying very hard to succeed. "My Losing Season" is an autobiography that focuses on the author's senior year as a college basketball player at The Citadel, the famous military school in Charleston, South Carolina. The Citadel Code begins with, "To revere God, love my country, and be loyal to The Citadel. To be faithful, honest, and sincere in every act and purpose and to know that honorable failure is better than success by unfairness or cheating."
This book holds a demonstration of how to grow more honest with oneself and sincere with others. This is a story of fear, sadism, injury, failure and loss and how these can lead to courage and achievement or degradation and estrangement.
In a way that smells like truth, Conroy tells his story, reconstructing memories over 30 years old. His understanding matures as he reconnects with the shattered team of his youth and the boy that failed them. He doesn't blame, he reveals - everything. When Conroy writes about himself, he is telling the truth about all of us. When reading this poetic work, one cannot avoid feeling connected to deeper truths of the human condition. There is no better way to spend one's reading time.
68 internautes sur 72 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Knowlege of sports not required 4 novembre 2002
Par Michael Beverly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I was a bit unsure at first if I was ready to read a non fiction work by Pat Conroy. I enjoy non fiction and have lately devoted most of my reading to it, but I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting when I read the description of "My Losing Season". After all, who cares about an unknown college basketball team that played in the sixties?
I haven't read all of Mr. Conroy's books yet, not because I don't think he is one of the great writers of all time, but because I know that I'll only get to read them once for the first time. My introduction into his worlds of fiction caught me by surprise because I was well into 'The Prince of Tides' before I realized that the book wasn't a true story. I now realize after reading 'My Losing Season' that everything he writes is true, even the fiction.
I would have broken down crying several times during the reading of this book, but my heart is still guarded by never sleeping sentinels whose tireless detail is to walk the stone walls that guard my interior. Mr. Conroy manages to gain an entrance, however, and at times during reading his work I feel a sense of hatred towards him. Not meanness, just anger with no where to go.
So what is it about this book, this story that makes it so worth reading? The nakedness that Pat Conroy brings to the page. The truth. Simple and raw and courageous. Enduring and joyful, sad and painful.
I envy his memories, his legacy, his past, not because I feel that the journey was easy or he was lucky, but because whatever molded him into the man he became, whatever blessing or curse that was bestowed him at birth, whatever angels or demons followed his path, he has been able to live outside of the shells and caves and fortresses that most of us dwell in. Or at least he has done so enough to make a difference.
While I can't recommend 'My Losing Season' enough, I do have one slight reservation, that being I don't know whether or not a first time reader will enjoy it more before or after they've read one of his previous books. But do read it, whether or not you are familiar with basketball, military colleges or the journey of broken boys trying to become men, you will turn the last page wishing there was more. I promise.
34 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This work of heartbreak and loss is honest and true to life 9 novembre 2002
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
MY LOSING SEASON is a sports memoir as honest and heartbreaking as a double overtime loss to a hated rival.
It is also the only memoir that deals directly with the true story --- step by step, game by game --- of an NCAA Division I basketball team that won a mere eight games (out of 25). This is counterintuitive for a sports book. You see, we are supposed to remember those athletes and teams that never lose, the Knute Rocknes, not the Bill Buckners. Yet both examples offer powerful stories.
This was the only type of sports book Pat Conroy could write.
In a moment of kismet while on the book tour for BEACH MUSIC, Conroy reconnected with his former teammate John DeBrosse. They found themselves replaying the minutiae of a loss on a basketball court 30 years ago. Both men were marked by that losing season. This encounter served as catalyst to search for meaning from this lost season. Conroy devoted two years to pouring through old newspaper clips, interviewing former teammates and diving into his own memories to reignite the fires of regret and disappointment.
He recalls that the best memories his teammates had from the 1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs Varsity Basketball team were of the great players they went up against. They remember the Michael Jordans --- or in this case the Johnny Moates. Conroy writes, "In every home I entered as I reconstituted my team, I found instead of memory scar tissue and nerve damage. There is no downside to winning. It feels forever fabulous. But there is no teacher more discriminating or transforming than loss."
This memoir peeks audaciously into the minds of players on a losing team: what made them tick, what they thought and who made them what they became. So the daring part is --- who cares about a bunch of losers?
You will, and whether or not you ever played college ball you will soon discover what pushed this entire team to fixate on a single season, letting it overshadow major accomplishments. This was no ordinary team --- these men were the products of the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina. Recounting the emotional destruction that is Plebe life (freshman military hazing) to the harsh demands of athletic scholarships (vomiting on the basketball court during six-hour workouts), it is the story of a terrible rise to manhood in a microcosm.
Before landing at the Citadel, Conroy was a military brat whose family was always on the move, with the only consistency being a father who wielded love with flying fists and words of debasement. Bloody beatings, unexplainable scars and raw masculine brutality slowly built the foundation of Conroy's childhood memories. His very first memory is from age 2, "my mother tried to stab him (Conroy's father, Colonel Donald Conroy) with a butcher knife and he backhanded her to the floor, laughing, a scene I observed from my high chair." After each game Conroy played, his father made a point to wait and dismantle his self worth. He loomed above him at 6' 4" to his 5' 10". "You're ... You didn't have an off night. You couldn't hold my jock as a ballplayer. I used to eat guys alive on the court," he would say.
The treatment of Conroy by his father is often overwhelming. At age 9 the young Conroy decides to become the best basketball player alive and prove his worth to his father. At 17, when he enters the Citadel, he is a human emotional husk (a neophyte, a virgin), and it becomes for him the ultimate fantasy to conquer the windmills of his father's brutal Chicago childhood. He wants to show his father he exists, that he is unique and worthy of love.
The intimate domestic politics of Pat Conroy's family is well-mined territory (THE GREAT SANTINI., THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE, THE PRINCE OF TIDES, BEACH MUSIC), but never has it moved with such visceral force as when it is described through the eyes of a young, willful basketball player whose only and last bridge between father and son is sport. Conroy does not overstate his pain, it is real. (Conroy's brother committed suicide and his mother died of leukemia.) Conroy has contemplated suicide many times when taking stock of the shipwrecks in his past.
Mirroring life, the story of Conroy's senior year basketball season in 1967 is complex, his pain is fierce and its shadow lurks behind every word he writes. This was no ordinary season; it was a dismal season, one of loss, pain and very few personal triumphs for the author as well as his teammates. In this personal history the moments that make up Conroy's brutal upbringing find an equal immediacy to the game of basketball.
Conroy never gives up on himself or his team because he yearns for the freedom a Citadel education can give him. He eventually graduates from the Citadel a member of their prestigious honor board, the head of its literary magazine and the captain of his basketball team as well as its most valuable player. In this way the budding author overcomes the regrets --- the "what ifs" --- that have pursued him throughout life.
MY LOSING SEASON is work of heartbreak and loss, it is honest and true to life, not a testament to "ifs", it simply is.
--- Reviewed by R. Scott Hillkirk (
16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Great Life Lesson Learned! 11 janvier 2007
Par B. Pfeil - Publié sur Amazon.com
My Losing Season is the story of The Citadel's '66-'67 season. Pat Conroy begins the book with a little background as to how he got into basketball and fell in love with the game, as a child in a military family moving from town to town every year. He takes the reader through his journey up until he arrives at The Citadel for college. While Conroy does give tremendous details about his experience at The Citadel, the majority of the book deals with the '66-'67 basketball season. Conroy takes the reader game for game through the ups and mostly downs of the season - their crazy coach Mel Thompson, the Green Weenies, the loss of confidence of the starting 5, and all the teams they play in the Southern conference.

As a reader you'll get to know these guys - DeBrosse, Cauthen, Kennedy, Zinsky, Tee Hooper, etc - you truly feel for them especially because they're real people and these games really happened! It's a great lesson on what one can learn from losing. Are those lessons more important that having a winning season? My only complaint was that since every chapter was really a different basketball game it got tedious at times. You definitely have to be a sports enthusiast to enjoy this book!
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