Tess's love in life is soccer. When she finds out that all sports at her school will be cut unless the community votes for a tax levy, Tess will do anything to rally votes. She's even joining forces with a cheerleader to help spread the word and raise funds. Throughout the campaign to save soccer, Tess is playing her heart out on the soccer field and struggling to make passing grades in her classes. But if the levy doesn't pass, will it all have been for nothing? Find out in Dawn FitzGerald's Soccer Chick Rules.
About the Author
Dawn Fitzgerald's first novel, Getting in the Game, was published to glowing reviews. Finally, sports fiction for middle-grade girls! Dawn FitzGerald lives in Ohio with her husband and two children. She teaches high school English andas Coach Fitzcoaches the girls' varsity soccer team.
Read an Excerpt
Soccer Chick Rules
By Dawn Fitzgerald
Holtzbrinck PublishersCopyright © 2006 Dawn FitzGerald
All rights reserved.
"Open in the middle!" I shout across the field to my teammate Katie. Without even glancing up, she sends a sweet lofting pass that lands just outside the penalty box. I fight past the defender to get at the ball and give it a hard kick toward the yellow net in front of me.
Cling! It strikes the metal crossbar on the goal and ricochets back in front of the goalie's outstretched arms — just out of reach. Now it's a matter of who wants it bad enough as the offense and defense battle for the ball.
I hear the sound of shin guards smashing together and I feel a sharp jab in my back. My friend Brittany, who's playing fullback for the red team, practically growls in frustration, fighting to get her foot on the ball and to prevent my team — green pinnies — from scoring a goal. After all, the stakes are high. Coach always makes the losing team sprint extra laps at the end of practice.
The black-and-white Brine ball pops loose, and I barely get my left foot on it. The kick is weak and the goalie scoops it up in her arms with a relieved smile on her face. She cradles it for a moment, catching her breath before she has to punt it downfield.
I stand next to her, panting from exhaustion and disappointment. Glaring at the ball, I'm tempted to kick it out of her arms and commit a blatant foul, but Coach blows the whistle and shouts, "That's it for today, girls! Tie score — everyone runs extra laps!"
"Nooo, Coach!" Both teams groan as we take off our sweaty pinnies and head toward the bench for a quick gulp of water before the run.
"And, Tess Munro, work on that left foot!" Coach shouts.
"I know! It's just that I couldn't —"
"No excuses!" she says with a faint smile on her face. "You make excuses in practice and you'll wind up making them in a game and then it'll carry over into your schoolwork and —"
"Okay, Coach, I get it!" I say as I begin to run the figure eight, jogging the end lines and sprinting the sidelines of the field. But somehow, I can't see my science teacher, Mr. Metzer, accepting "I couldn't get a foot on it" for a late lab assignment.
* * *
"The universe is expanding like a huge, colossal fart stinking up the room," says Mr. Metzer.
Has Metz completely flipped out? And does he expect us to write this stuff down?
To prove Metzer's point, Bo Tauber lets one rip, which sets off a chain reaction of copycat farting among the boys. It sounds like we're in the trumpet section of the middle school band instead of science lab.
Olivia Fletcher glares at Bo and says, "Pig!"
He gives her a friendly snort and carries on.
I almost tell her not to worry. With two older brothers, I'm practically an expert on farts. Bo's was loud and forceful. It's the silent ones, originating from deep bowel space, or as Metzer would say, "black holes," that are the most deadly.
I say nothing to stuck-up Olivia. Instead, I doodle my name and a picture of a soccer ball with my green gel pen — Tess Munro, Tess Munro, Tess Munro. I've got the name down. It's the soccer ball that needs work. It looks like a bunch of raisins on a plate.
Olivia kicks Bo's chair with her leather boots in a lame effort to make him stop.
My best friend, Ibby Bloom, has one hand cupped over her mouth and nose while the other waves in the air to attract Metzer's attention.
"Will this be on the test?"
Leave it to Ibby, science geekess and germ-a-phobe, to worry about Metz hitting us with a pop quiz. Aren't there more important things to worry about? Like whether the stupid school levy passes next month and we have sports for the rest of the year? Hello — Earth to Ibby! Where are your priorities?
She's on the school swim team, but probably because it's the only sport where chlorinated water immediately washes away sweat. For Ibby the formula is simple: Sweat + bacteria = germs. I totally blame her mother for this. When we were little, she carried around a quart-sized bottle of disinfectant gel whenever we went out in public.
"Isabelle," she'd say, "clean your hands." Ibby would hold them up like an offering and would promptly receive two quick pumps of purification. In addition, Mrs. Bloom trained her daughter to avoid doorknobs, hand railings, elevator buttons, and escalator grips. For Ibby, simply using public bathrooms and water fountains requires tricky maneuvers involving elbows, feet, and wads of tissues.
"Ibby," Mr. Metzer says, hands clasped behind his back as he rocks from heel to toe, "everything discussed in this class is fair game on a pop quiz or test. Now, let's get back to our gaseous galaxy!"
This inspires the boys to release yet another round, which Metz wisely chooses to ignore. Zipping my hoodie up until it covers my mouth and nose, I roll my eyes at Bo through the narrow peephole. You gotta love the kid, best goalie in the soccer league, but sometimes he carries things too far. Ibby's got the right idea after all, and fleece offers excellent filtration.
* * *
My parents would kill me for admitting this, but basically sports are the only reason I bother to attend school. Everything else is just warm-up or pregame — nine classes and lunch before the main event. Ever since I was in kindergarten, the highest grade on my report card is always for gym, or Phys Ed as they call it at Clarkstown Middle School. "Gym is the name of the room," says our Phys Ed teacher, Mr. Wadler.
I argue with my parents that surely that lone A+ balances out my crappy performance in other subjects. They don't buy it. Besides, you don't stand a chance of winning an argument when your mother's a trial lawyer and your father's a school psychologist.
I'm not a dumb jock, though. It's just that nothing, n-o-t-h-i-n-g, I ever learned in school comes close to having as much meaning for me as athletic competition. I love how powerful I feel when I'm playing a game — any game. Just so long as it involves teams, a ball, hoops, a bat, or a goal. Throw in some cool uniforms and I'm so there!
Sports have purpose and meaning. Pre-Algebra, the Napoleonic period, iambic pentameter? Please — I'd gladly ditch it all. My only concern is that the voters in our small Ohio town find it in their hearts and wallets to vote "Yes!" for the school levy on November 2.
Which explains why I'm giving up precious practice time on the soccer field this afternoon to attend a student levy meeting after school. Normally, I never get involved in politics. I'm not the girl who walks around wearing slogan T-shirts or a collection of multicolored rubber wristbands for every imaginable cause. And you definitely won't see my name on the Student Council roster, running for class office, or heading up the magazine drive.
But when the school district put the athletic programs on the line — foul move, by the way — I figured a jockette's got to stand up for something other than a pop fly. Besides, athletics aren't the only thing that will go if the vote is no. There'll be no more busing or after-school activities, and some of the newer teachers will lose their jobs.
I can always walk to school or risk my life hitching a ride with my high school brother, Mark, who failed his driver's test three times (speeding through a school zone, hitting a parked car while attempting to parallel park, and running over the neighbor's garbage cans — with his front tires) before finally getting his temps this summer. Big deal if a few teachers are fired and the classrooms are overcrowded. But I promise this — I won't go to school if there's no soccer, basketball, and fast-pitch softball to get me through the state-mandated 180 days. No way!
* * *
A new math teacher, Ms. Harper, stands in front of a flip chart, writing down a list of activities we're brainstorming for the levy campaign. Her anxious smile adds a personal dimension to those job cuts if we fail.
"Only four weeks until the vote!" cries Olivia Fletcher for the third time during the meeting-that-never-ends.
I give Bo a look — We gave up practice for this? He reads my mind and, ever so carefully, picks up the eraser from the chalk tray. Hopefully, to nail Olivia in the head with it if she opens her big mouth one more time.
If I had known that Olivia would be in charge of this committee, I'd have ditched the idea of getting involved. Yet, before I can sneak out the door to practice, I'm signed up to help with yard signs, a Halloween haunted house fundraiser, and door-to-door canvassing of my neighborhood. What the heck is canvassing anyway?
Why would Olivia take charge? She's a cheerleader, not an athlete. Although my mom says that for Title IX law — gender equality — schools actually count cheerleading as a sport. Gimme a break! I guess if we lose sports, Olivia loses her excuse for parading around school on Spirit Days in plastic-wrapped tops and skirts that barely cover her butt. It's not like she can just pick up and cheer for the chess team: Checkmate! Check-queen! We really rock this scene!
Maybe the cheerleaders have something at stake after all.
Ms. Harper explains, "Your interaction with the public, especially the elderly, who almost always turn out in large numbers to vote, could make a big difference in how they vote. Please remember in the upcoming weeks to be positive, helpful members of our community."
Bo leans over and whispers, "Does this mean no more practicing slide tackles on little old ladies in the park?"
I smile. "Yeah, right." Bo's grandmother practically raised him and he treats her like she's the queen of England. "Who are you kidding, Tauber? Everyone knows you're a sucker for old ladies with walkers."
"Four! More! Weeks!" squeals Olivia, clapping her hands together for emphasis like she's on the sidelines cheering for a football game.
Bo's goalie arm instinctively whips forward, propelling the eraser across the classroom until it smashes against the far wall, exploding in a mushroom cloud of chalk dust inches above Olivia's head. "Yikes!" Olivia ducks.
We make a run for the door, but Ms. Harper follows us into the hallway. "Bo Tauber, that's exactly the kind of behavior I'm talking about!" Bo shrugs and jogs backward for a few steps, giving Ms. Harper one of his trademark sorry-I-didn't-mean-it looks. With his sense of humor, mischievous grin, and springy caramel-colored dreadlocks spiraling out of his head, most teachers find him hard to resist.
"Don't tell me you didn't mean to throw it!" she scolds.
Bo laughs. He knows she's going to let him off. "Actually, Ms. Harper, I didn't mean to miss!"
* * *
I hate to miss. As a forward, I know it's my job to score the goals for the team, and somehow, I usually find a way to make it happen — head balls, volley kicks, or just plain muscling it in between the goalposts. Coach says that I have a sixth sense for scoring. My mom says she can always tell when a goal's about to happen by the determined look in my eyes and how my ponytail whips back and forth as I fight my way through the defense.
"You're late!" Coach shouts when she sees me jogging toward the field. "Run four laps, then stretch it out."
"Sorry — went to a levy meeting after school."
Eyebrows raised. "Levy meeting, huh? Now, detention I can see...." She looks at me with a twinkle in her eye and gives her whistle a shrill blast. From the side of her mouth, she says, "Levy meeting — that's a new one, Munro."
"I'm serious, Coach. I want to help. I'll die if they cut sports!" She laughs, "Me too, or at least have trouble paying my bills."
I jog along the white-lined perimeter of the field. Pushing myself to run harder with each lap, I feel my lungs bursting with the crisp October air. The trees surrounding the field look like they're on fire — blazing orange, red, and gold leaves. Overhead, a noisy flock of Canada geese fly by in a graceful moving V.
Soccer season is my favorite. We begin in late August in the heavy heat of summer, and by the end of the season, we might be kicking the ball around in the snow. Extremes — that's the way I like it. Which explains why, even though I'm not crazy about taking orders from Queen Olivia, I plan on giving 110 percent to this levy campaign. If I treat it like it's a game, then how can we possibly lose?CHAPTER 2
When I arrive home after soccer practice, Dad's sitting in the easy chair with his reading glasses balanced on the tip of his nose. There's a pile of school folders in his lap and even more scattered all over the floor. Names are written in black permanent marker on these folders — troubled students — who need to see the school psychologist for one reason or another. Dad's great with other people's kids' problems, but I wonder how he'd react if Luke, Mark, or Tess Munro's folder ever landed on his lap?
"How's practice?" he asks.
"Pretty good, except that I was late because of a levy meeting. Coach made me run extra laps."
"Oh?" he murmurs, absorbed in his work. "Sounds reasonable."
"Yeah, well, I hope people in this town are reasonable."
Wonder what the folder says — drugs, multiple personalities, chronic truancy? "It's not fair," I say. "Last summer, they cut the Cleveland Rockers, our first professional women's basketball team. The U.S. Women's Soccer League bit the dust. And our professional women's football team, the Cleveland Fusion — bet you their days are numbered!"
Dad responds with an enthusiastic, "Hmm!"
I try his favorite subject — psychology. "I'm developing attachment issues. I'll never learn to trust if every team I root for disappears. Poof! Gone!"
More paper shuffling from the Buddha-belly in the reclining chair.
Time to bring out the big guns. "Dad, if they cut school sports, it'll totally suck!"
He hates it when I use "unladylike" language, even though suck is pretty tame in Tess Munro–land. From tagging along after my older brothers and their friends, before I even entered preschool, I was basically tutored in just about every foul word. They made up a Curse Word Alphabet and they'd quiz me: "Hey, Tess, what's the A word? B, C, D ...?"
To them, nothing was funnier than a smut-mouthed baby sister in diapers. I clean up my act, though, around my parents. And Dad's tuned in enough to realize that I'm really upset, because he doesn't warn, "Language, young lady!" Instead, he gets right to the heart of the matter. "It's business, Tess, pure and simple."
I drop my two-ton backpack on the floor. It lands with a loud crash. "Then I'm making it my business!"
Chuckling, he finally puts aside his papers and reaches out for a hug. "I know you will!"
* * *
After dinner, I head outside with a clipboard and sign-up sheets. According to Ms. Harper, canvassing a neighborhood means that you knock on front doors and ask people to agree to allow their names to be listed in the local paper, endorsing the levy. Then you ask them to display a pro-levy yard sign on their front lawn a couple of weeks before the election.
I know most of our neighbors and have trick-or-treated at every house in this neighborhood since I was a little kid. How hard can it be? But when I step outside, the first house I face across the street is the O'Hanlons'.
The O'Hanlons moved in last June. The three girls in the family all attend St. Jude's Parochial School. St. Jude — the patron saint of lost causes. Not a good sign. How will I convince them to support the public schools and poke a levy sign in their perfectly manicured front lawn?
Besides, we don't actually get along.
This past summer, my brothers swear it was Mrs. O'Hanlon who called the city on us because our front lawn was a little overgrown. Okay — I admit, it was a freaking forest. If a Frisbee or baseball happened to land in it, we'd just shrug and go into the garage and find a new one. Mr. Metzer would categorize our lawn as the black hole of Bluebird Drive — objects fall in, never to be seen again.
Basically, it was a power struggle over mowing the grass. Dr. Dad, with all his psych training, insisted on leaving it up to the three of us to take responsibility and work out a schedule. His motto — communicate and cooperate!
Luke, Mark, and I ignored the two Cs. "Hey," my brothers would reason, whenever I suggested we tackle the growing problem, "we're showing Mom and Dad school spirit by letting these dandelions reach the three-foot mark. It's a tribute to the official flower of the University of Rochester — their alma mater."
Excerpted from Soccer Chick Rules by Dawn Fitzgerald. Copyright © 2006 Dawn FitzGerald. Excerpted by permission of Holtzbrinck Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When i played the sport i loved it sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Much Try the spory
In this book a girl named Tess goes through many hard times to find a way to get a levy passed.To find out if tess can do it read this amazing book!!!!!
This book was the best book I have ever read!! I was so good!! If you are a girl or boy who likes science and politics this is the book for you!! You have got to read it!!
Tess Munro loves sports, but most of all she loves soccer. Tess lives in a small town. The board who controls the sports at her school decides to ask the town if they will keep paying extra taxes so the kids will able to have sports. Tess and her friends have to keep their fingers crossed and hope that the levy will pass. They will also have to sacrifice their Saturdays to advertise the cause in hope of winning. I think this is a good book because it really let you into the characters lives and explained their ideas and feelings in a unique way. I also liked the story line and liked how Tess wasn¿t afraid to speak her mind.
Tess Munro is an average high school girl who lives for sports. The story takes place at Tess¿ high school. It all starts when the town decides to take away sports at her local high school. But Tess is not willing to go down without a fight. With her arch-enemy Olivia Fletcher and her friends Ibby Bloom and Bo Tauber, Tess is determined to save the sports. Will sports stay or go? I think Soccer Chic Rules is not like many other books. It isn¿t like hero¿s saving the world, but it has a fair amount of humor. I can say that the characters are funny and have special personalities. Otherwise, They¿re your normal, every day teenagers. If you love books full of action, like me, it may seem a little boring. Otherwise, it¿s a great absorbing story, and you will never want to give up quickly after you read this book.
This book was awesome for anyone who loves sports and has annoying brothers. I recomend this book to anyone. especially middle schoolers. AWESOME BOOK! thanks!