Travel Team by Mike Lupica; Penguin Young
Readers Group: New York, 2004; $16.99
Hello, I’m Zach Hoffman and I’m twelve years old. I’m going into the seventh grade and I love to read and play sports. I like reading books in which kids play sports with their friends and teach you lessons on confidence, pride, and teamwork. When I read the book Travel Team, by Mike Lupica, I was taught all of those lessons.
Danny Walker, age twelve, is the smallest but best seventh-grade basketball player in Middletown. To Danny’s misfortune, when he arrives at the tryouts for Middletown’s travel basketball team, he finds out the Vikings are looking for a bigger team this year. After two nights of exhausting hard work, Danny is told after the tryout that he didn’t make the team. Danny is told up front by the coach, Mr. Ross, that he didn’t make it because he knew his dad as a kid. Everyone else got a phone call at home. Danny takes his tryout misfortune too personally and thinks about quitting basketball altogether. Danny’s parents are divorced. Danny lives with his kind mom, who’s an eighth-grade teacher. His dad, who was a basketball child star and former NBA player, lives out of town. When Richie Walker hears his son didn’t make his old Middletown travel team, he arrives back in Middletown and at Danny’s side. Danny’s confidence is beginning to rise back up to start playing again. His dad creates another travel team. This immediately boosts Danny’s confidence and he can’t wait to start. Danny is put in charge of contacting all of his friends that didn’t make the Vikings and all the other kids he wants to play on the travel team.
Last summer, my dad created a basketball team and put us in a summer basketball league. Like Danny’s team, we didn’t start out too hot. But throughout the season, we got better. I realized that it isn’t always about winning, but having fun and getting better at what you love to do.
It was my first year to try out for my school’s A team in basketball last fall. I was really nervous that I wouldn’t make it and everyone would make fun of me. I practiced really hard every day. Every day I practiced, I got a little better. By the time the tryouts came, I knew I was ready to show the coaches what I could do on the court. After the two nights of tryouts, I waited a long week for the call to finally come. I had done it. I had made the A team! After all the hard work I put into it, I had succeeded at reaching my goal. Up to this day, my confidence has stayed with me and I know I can accomplish anything.
There was one part of Travel Team that I especially liked. Danny’s Middletown Hawks had made it to the play-offs. To the Hawks’ disadvantage, they would have to play the Middletown Vikings, the team Danny had originally tried out for. Mr. Ross’s son is equally as good as Danny and is also a very good friend of Danny’s. Ty got mad at his dad for not letting him hang out with Danny and his other friends on the Hawks. So before the big rivalry game, Ty becomes the newest member of the Middletown Hawks. When the game starts, the Vikings go up by a couple points. But Danny and Ty work up some plays to get the Hawks right back in the game. In the end, the game is won by the Hawks, after Danny makes a left-handed pass to Ty for a layup.
I really enjoyed this book and hope to read another one by the magnificent author and ESPN sports reporter, Mike Lupica.