"Life does not deal with everyone the way it deals with me. Athletics helps reveal how others deal with life."

He is enamored with the idea of being a doctor, but his dislike of rigorous study and his distracting love of all sports mean that Noel Nation will never make a capable physician. As a teacher, though, the observant young man with a talent for explaining things just might succeed, according to his friends. At the same time, Nation must also grapple with Osgood-Schlatter's disease, a painful knee condition that will permanently impact his participation in sports. If he can't always play, however, Nation can coach. For more than thirty years, in the small town of Cleveland, Oklahoma, he does exactly that, coaching every sport from varsity football to girls' baseball and teaching the sciences from biology to physics. Along the way, he loses multiple family members in a single monumental tragedy through which only his firm Christian faith, staunch family values, and robust work ethic can possibly bring him.

Recounted with wry wit, charming self-deprecation, and shattering parental anguish, Nation's recollections of his career and personal life are varied in a way to which readers can immediately relate, particularly if they are middle-aged empty-nesters who have experienced both the heady pinnacle of triumph and the bleak depths of despair. Nation, the recipient of Oklahoma's 2004 Principal of the Year award, intersperses his narrative with original poetry, including poems that discuss the surprises that await educators in their profession and the sorrow that accompanies the untimely, simultaneous loss of two young daughters. Through the years, he has learned that truly effective education is as individual as the students who receive it. That lesson leaps from these pages in passages that will appeal to anyone who loved school. Meanwhile, other portions will resonate with anyone who hated it. Educators at various stages in their careers will also appreciate this relatable memoir.

Return to USR Home