Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Women to Watch in Sochi

The Sochi Winter Games begin on February 6th and NBC is going to be providing us with over 1539 hours worth of coverage. Here, in images and video, are some of the women you might want to keep your eye on. 

First, the Women’s Ski Jump Team who are a part of olympic competition for the first time EV-ER! That's right EV-ER. Where have they been? Banned from the olympics because – I kid you not – the men in charge thought that jumping and landing like that would hurt their reproductive organs. Bogus. This didn't stop these girls and women from pursuing the sport. They still did it. They checked the jumps for their male counterparts. They still competed. Just not at the Olympics. For more on the story check out this NPR piece from December of 2013 or this NPR piece from 2005.

After 12 years of lobbying to be included in the Olympics, I hope that the team gets tons of support and TV coverage. Here's a great video from the organization Let Her Jump.

Jazmine Fenlator will represent USA as a bobsled pilot. Jazmine didn't have a lot growing up and her family had even less after Hurricane Irene hit their home. In this video she talks about the importance of perseverance and working towards your goals.

Image from NBC Sports and Getty Images
Lanny Barnes, an accomplished biathlete and part of two past Olympic teams, was ill during the qualifying race for the Women's Biathlon. Lanny finished 6th and Tracy, her twin sister and also a past Olympian, was 5th. Tracy Barnes surrendered her place on the 2014 Olympic team to Lanny.  In this NPR interview the two women talk about the reason for their decision, and their inspiration and support for each other. Are you a twin? Do you feel that your twin is a part of you?

This NBC video of Julia Mancusos, Julia Mancusos Unusual Training, makes me want to be her. I wish I was as fearless and could bomb down steep hills. I wish I could play the ukulele in Hawaii. I wish I could lift like that. I wish I could surf.

Julie Chu knows that it's better to work than to wish. She is the three time Olympian (two silvers and a bronze) and team captain of the 2012 and 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championship team. Fairfield, Connecticut is her hometown, she went to Harvard, she's has coached at the collegiate level, and has so much experience: world championships, nations cups, professional teams that I can't list them here. Take a look at her amazing resume at her Olympic page.

Tatyana McFadden is a nordic skier and biathlete in the Paralympics which will take place in March after the February games. McFadden is a  Grand Slam marathoner (she won the Boston, London, New York and Chicago marathons!) and an experienced Paralympian. In 2004, 2008, and 2012 she medaled in track and field events. Most recently, at the 2013 International Paralympic Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wisconsin, she was Fourth in Long Distance - Classic Sitting; and Fifth in Sprint, Middle Distance - Freestyle Sitting. From the IPC website: "Depending on functional disability, a competitor uses a sit-ski, a chair equipped with a pair of skis. Athletes with blindness/visual impairment compete in the event with a sighted guide." When Tatyana was in highschool, they wouldn't let her participate in track events. Her family's lawsuit resulted in Tatyana's Law: The Sports and Fitness Equity Act. (If you are a girl and a para-athlete I'd love to feature you on the blog. Please write to me at annajboll [at] gmail [dot] com.) If this video doesn't inspire you, nothing will. :)

Good luck to all the incredible women athletes who are competing in the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic games and to all girls who have Olympic aspirations! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Agent Julia A. Weber on Sporty Girls and Sporty Books

If you follow me on Twitter or have come across any of my interviews/ wish lists online, you will know that I’m a huge fan of sports-themed fiction, and always encourage writers to submit their sports manuscripts to me.

My entire life has been shaped by sports in one way or another. As a child/ teenager, I tried as many sports as I could: field hockey, tennis, badminton, squash, dance, horse-riding, windsurfing… obviously, some of these lasted longer than others. While windsurfing only lasted a few attempts, during which I realised that my talent was… cough… limited, and squash was just a short stint at boarding school, I’m still playing field hockey today (20+ years later). I’m also a passionate golfer these days. But I’ve always been just as happy to watch sports – whether it’s football (I mean soccer), horse racing, tennis, handball, rugby… I just love it all.

Are you asking yourself what any of this has to do with books yet? Well, when you choose books to read, you tend to go for books that cover your interests. Right?

When I was younger, the only sports-themed novels that seemed to be available for sports-obsessed girls like me where about horse-riding (I was a big fan of The Saddle Club) and dance/ ballet – the (stereo)typical girls’ sports so to speak. There was the occasional football (still talking about soccer) book for boys… and that was pretty much it. (Please bear in mind that I grew up in Germany… so if you remember all these amazing sports novels about girls… lucky you. We didn’t have them.) Children’s literature over here was pretty much dominated by Enid Blyton and Astrid Lindgren. Which was great, don’t get me wrong. At the time, I didn’t really think about it much. Sure, I would have loved to find a YA series featuring field hockey, but it’s not like I had sleepless nights over it. And goodness knows, I’m making up for it now (not with field hockey books though. Where are those?). These days, there are so many amazing books about sporty girls out there, and I absolutely love it. What I love even more is the diversity of the sports featured. The Pretty Tough series, the Dairy Queen series, and Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series are great examples of books where girls break into so-called “boys’ sports” and show them how it’s done. ;) I think they show girls that you don’t have to perpetuate the stereotype and only play sports that are considered “girly”. That you can cut your own way, follow your dreams, and make it happen. They also show that girls can be just as tough, ambitious, hard-working, and talented as boys if they put their mind to it. Something I think is important to tell girls who still live in a world where they keep hearing that they should smile, look pretty, and be cute. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a girly girl. I only ever wear skirts and dresses, I love nail polish and pretty things. I like romance and cute boys… that doesn’t mean that I can’t play sports where I get dirty. Yes, dancing is fun and I enjoyed horse-riding when I was younger… but the reason why hockey has always been my no. 1 sport? Because – being part of a team aside – it takes me to my personal limit. Sweat dripping into your eyes, that knowledge that your team needs you to go the extra mile even though you’re close to throwing up. Every broken toe, bruise, or pulled muscle a battle wound. That feeling when it’s raining so hard that you can barely see through the raindrops on your eyelashes, the hockey stick slipping in your hands, the astroturf so slippery you just slide over it. I don’t know if that’s “girly”, or “cute” (well, I guess the short skirts are), but who cares? It’s about doing something you love, and not somebody telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t because you’re girl (or a boy for that matter. What’s wrong with a boy wanting to dance or ride horses? Nothing. That’s what!). It’s about proving that you can be just as passionate, good, or tough.

Sports teach you so much about life. It teaches you about winning and losing, about making the right decisions for you and your team, how to be a team player, about fair play, (unhealthy) ambition and motivation, and how to deal with set backs, injuries, and failure. Sports shape us as a person; sometimes good, sometimes bad. And that is what makes sports such a good framework for book, no matter the age group. Authors have the possibility to create characters that are role models, characters that show readers what is possible, and that it’s okay to go after what you want. I so often find myself (or my teenage self) in sports-themed novels: the team spirit, the friendship but also rivalry between team members, the fight for the starting position on the team, the cute boy in the boys’ team, the fear of failing, losing, and not being good enough, the feeling that your coach doesn’t like you, the dream of winning a competition or championship, the frustration at yourself and others when you don’t reach your goal, the pain of getting injured and watching the others play the game you should be playing, the time that needs to put into the game and therefore missing out on parties or trips to the cinema your other friends invite you to. Where there’s sports, there’s (potential) conflict – that’s what fascinates us players, viewers, supporters, readers.

I know my life wouldn’t be the same without sports in it, and I really hope that supporting sports-themed novels with kick-ass (am I allowed to say kick-ass on here?) heroines will encourage girls to fall in love with sports (whether active or passive) and maybe even try sports they never thought they could play. Life is too short to have people tell you that girls should only enjoy tea parties and play with dolls. Seriously.

Julia is a cardigan-wearing literary agent with a — sometimes unhealthy — love for books, sports, coffee, cake, romance, and eye candy. She's a right-handed left-handed, hates the sound a pencil makes on paper, always (ALWAYS) has random numbers flying around her head, and her favourite pizza topping is a combo of pineapple and black olives… just in case you were wondering. While based in Germany, Julia's open to international submissions, and is looking for MG, YA, NA, Women's Fiction, Romance, and Thrillers. Julia is always on the look-out for new clients, but also extremely picky, so make sure your query and manuscript are the best they can be before querying.
Where to find Julia: WebsiteTwitter

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Interview with Justine Siegal, a baseball pioneer

I am very honored to have the opportunity today to interview Justine Siegal. When I was doing research on girls who play baseball, Justine’s name came up again and again, not just for her own accomplishments in the sport, but also for the work she does helping and inspiring girls who play ball.

Here is a little about Justine: A true pioneer, Justine is the first woman to coach men’s professional baseball and to throw batting practice to a Major League Baseball team. She is the Founder of Baseball For All, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for girls in baseball. She has been featured in thousands of media outlets including: The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, NPR’s All Things Considered, and ESPN. Justine received her PhD in Sport Psychology from Springfield College.


You recently wrote an article about the differences between playing baseball and playing softball. Why was it important for you to play baseball?

J:I have always loved baseball. I never considered softball the same sport. I wanted to play the game I loved. And that was, and is baseball.

In my local little league there were two or three girls on each team, but when I look at the roster of the 12U teams there are none. Why do you think girls give up on baseball?

J: Girls are told to give up on baseball. There is so much pressure from other parents, coaches, and sometimes even their own parents to quit. Too many people think that softball is the equivalent of baseball so when they suggest the girl drop baseball for softball they often think they are helping. When in fact they are teaching her that her dreams are not as important as boys' dreams and that girls do certain things and boys do other things - and to not cross that line.

Was there ever a point that you thought of giving up?

J: Yes, once I gave up in high school. It felt like I could do no right. The softball coach was harassing me to play softball and the assistant baseball coach was giving me some grief, and I just walked off the field. I'm not proud of that but I didn't know what to do anymore. That night, I got myself together and the next day I apologized to my baseball coach and was back on the team. So I really only quit for a day. What I really needed was someone to talk to about the conflicted feelings and messages I was receiving daily just because I wanted to play baseball. I really felt alone in my pursuit.

What do you think the future is for women in baseball? Will we ever see a woman in the major league?

J: My board and I are working hard through Baseball For All to build baseball leagues for girls across the country. That is what I hope is the future for women in baseball. I don't know if a woman will play in MLB. As cool as that would be I would really like to see a professional women's baseball league.

Tell us a little bit about the Sparks and Baseball for All. Why do you think it's important for girls to play on girl's teams?

J: Baseball for All is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for girls to be in baseball as players, coaches, umpires, and leaders. The Sparks were our first girls' program and it's a team of 12u that play at Cooperstown Dreams Park. We are the only girls' team out of 104 boys teams. 2014 will mark our 11th year attending the Cooperstown tournament.

I think girls playing with other girls is important because it brings a sense of camaraderie. I am a big believer in co-ed baseball teams, I just also think we need to provide opportunities for girls to play baseball with other girls.

Were there any books that inspired you to continue to pursue your dream?

J: I have been an avid reader since kindergarten. I love books!  For me growing up there were not a lot of female role models in baseball. I mostly read non baseball books, particularly fiction. But when reading baseball I read everything I could about the Cleveland Indians, my home team. One book that I love that girls can buy now is Sliding into Home by Dori Hillstead Butler. It is a book about a girl who plays baseball and it has a great ending but you will have to read it to find out!

Thank you so much for doing this interview, Justine. You’re a sporty girl inspiration!

Make sure to check out Justine's TEDx talk about girls in baseball linked on the sidebar.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Out today, January 7, 2014, from Delacorte.

From Goodreads:

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. And I was so excited that I did—I was looking forward to reading this book about a two ice-skating girls with the same name.
BTW, I’ve loved the name Sloane ever since Ferris Bueller’s day off, I loved Ferris’ girlfriend played by Mia Sara. She was so cool, and it turns out that one of the Sloanes was named after that character. 


Lauren does a really great job in this alternating POV book about the two girls who switch lives when they randomly run into each other. They both have things they are running away from, and for each, it seems easier to assume someone else's life than deal with their own problems.

“Freaky Friday” themes are hard to do, without magic or an identical cousin. But Lauren makes it believable by giving the girls the same name and putting them in a foreign city where no one knows them. They get away with weeks of anonymity, the only inkling of suspicion coming from Sloane Devon’s ex-boyfriend who is living in the city and bumps into her on the town one night.

The sporty girl aspect of the book was one of the things I was most looking forward to—two sports in one book! Again, Lauren does an exceptional job being authentic with both sports, giving each of the girls a new sport to learn. It’s believable because they both have talent, though I find it more conceivable that SE would be able to play hockey than SD learning to figure skate and be thrown by a double partner. Even so, I bought it all! Great love interests, great family issues (well, you know what I mean), and great resolution. LOVE this book! 

If you love contemporary YA, you'll totally love BEING SLOANE JACOBS.