The Losing Season and Pat Conroy steal a little piece of my heart


1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs. Front row: John DeBrosse, Pat Conroy, Jim Halprin, T.E. Hooper. Back row: Doug Bridges, Greg Connor, Brian Kennedy, Dave Bornhorst, Dan Mohr, Al Kroboth, Bob Cauthen, Bill Zinsky.

1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs. Front row: John DeBrosse, Pat Conroy, Jim Halprin, T.E. Hooper. Back row: Doug Bridges, Greg Connor, Brian Kennedy, Dave Bornhorst, Dan Mohr, Al Kroboth, Bob Cauthen, Bill Zinsky.

There are few books that affect me when they are over.  Ones that make me sad and depressed because I will no longer be with the characters.  Ones that can break my heart so much that when I turn the last page, I end up crying or even sobbing because I have grown to love the characters and/or I wish the book wasn’t done.

This type of book sometimes sneaks up on me.  Usually it’s a book I think will be okay.  One that I might stumble upon and think ‘okay, this could be good.’  Recently I had a book that surprised me so much I almost felt a depression coming on when it was over.

My sister suggested I listen to audio books in the car since she has enjoyed it so much over the last 20 years.  I thought what the heck I will give it a try.  I’ve listened to a few that were okay, one I quit after the second CD because the reader was blah and the author was a little too obsessive for me about her dog.

Cadet Pat Conroy

Cadet Pat Conroy

Then a co-worker brought in a sack of audio books she thought I might enjoy.  Among those books was one by Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and The Lords of Discipline.  Author and son of The Great Santini.  But this book isn’t fiction, although The Great Santini is about his Dad, this book is about Pat and his teammates of the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team.  My Losing Season is about Pat’s last year as point guard and captain of The Citadel Bulldogs and about his childhood with a strict and abusive father which defined him as a man.

When I say “Pat Conroy” in my head or out loud, I hear the voice of Jay O. Sanders who read the book.  Jay has a slightly southern accent that fits perfectly with the book.  While listening, I wondered how many times Jay read the book to know when to put feeling and passion into the dialog because he does a fantastic job.  When I see a college basketball player getting ready to shoot a ball, I have a feeling “Don’t shoot Conroy” will pop into my head once in a while as Pat’s coach constantly yelled this during that losing season.

Col. Don "The Great Santini" Conroy

Col. Don “The Great Santini” Conroy

Now granted, some people don’t like sports or some people can take it or leave it.  I work in sports and I love sports.  I’m not obsessed, but I enjoy a good game of basketball where the players play their hearts out and leave all of it on the court.  During the Bulldogs’ losing season, you felt the passion and love of the game; you felt just how hard they fought.  I found myself cheering for them even though the games were played back in 1966 and 1967.  I cried after Pat had the best game of his life and his Dad still called him a loser and shoved him up against a wall.

I cried and laughed while driving to and from work.  I sat in my car in the parking garage before work as I finished listening to the book, surprised by the afterward by the author himself (I should have read the cover closer).

His short speech would have brought me to my knees had I been standing.  It left me sobbing in the car, tears streaming down my face as I walked into work and got on the elevator.  When I went to return the audio book to my co-worker she saw I was crying and hugged me.  Then she said “keep it,” as she knew I would listen again and again.

Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy

I’m glad I decided to take a chance on this book.  I’m glad I listened to it during March Madness as the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship roared into town and I will listen to it every March Madness as Pat reminds me each time that you have to believe in yourself.  Not everyone will be affected by Pat’s story as I was, but that’s okay.  I’m just glad I got to experience the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team’s losing season and the young man of Pat Conroy.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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