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Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love Hardcover – May 13, 2014

4.9 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Against the Grain
Phil Jackson, NBA Coach and New York Times bestselling author of Eleven Rings, from the foreword
"His success serves as a moving example of what can happen when people in authority care about others - not just about winning the next game or securing the next client.”

Ron Shelton, director of Bull Durham
"The old fashioned values of Coach Courtney come across as revolutionary in the cynical contemporary world, full of detail and anecdotes worthy of a Southern Preacher, but without the guilt.”

Jeanie Buss, President of the LA Lakers
“Sports is not the only realm where coaching counts. Bill Courtney has written a book that demonstrates to the beaten down executive that by peeling down to the values of character, commitment and leadership you can find your way back to a successful business and a meaningful life.”

Pam Shriver, International Tennis Hall of Fame & ESPN Broadcaster
“I was as inspired, especially by the chapter on perseverance. Everyone faces adversity and if you persevere through the tough times, you will become resilient which will lead to success. ”

John Feinstein, sportswriter and bestselling author of A Good Walk Spoiled
"Bill Courtney has nothing to prove to anyone as a football coach, as a businessman and as a human being. But if you want proof that his life has been fascinating, Against The Grain gives you all need. Enjoy the ride."

Praise for Bill Courtney
Yogi Roth, Former QB coach at USC and New York Times bestselling co-author of Win Forever and From PA to LA
“The role for a coach is often defined by wins and losses. Coach Courtney is a unique coach who understands that his role is not about a trophy, but about developing the next generation of leaders across the globe.Against The Grain speaks directly to that audience, both young and old, and is a must read for anyone who strives to impact others.”

Pete Carroll, Head Coach of Superbowl XLVIII Champions Seattle Seahawks and New York Times bestselling author
“Coach Courtney is an ultimate competitor with a passion for excellence. He continues to be an inspiration to coaches and players all around the football world – from high school to college to the pros – and also those from off the gridiron as well.”

Esquire
“The star of a new documentary is a leader for our times.”

Jimmy Kimmel
“Bill Courtney is a special person with an inspiring and incredible story.”

About the Author

Bill Courtney is a volunteer football coach and the owner and operator of Classic American Hardwoods, a $45 million lumber company and sitting board member of the prestigious Society of Entrepreneurs. He is a sought-after motivational speaker and consultant for organizations such as Nike, Pepsico, the USOC Paralympic Leadership Conference, the FedEx Leadership Live Conference, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Courtney lives with his wife and four children in Memphis, Tennessee.

Michael Arkush has written 12 books, including Rush! and The Fight of The Century. He and his wife, Pauletta Walsh, live in Oak View, California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Weinstein Books (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602862249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602862241
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Against the Grain by Bill Courtney is not at all what you first expect when you see the cover. When I first heard about and saw the book I thought, "Oh, it's a football book. I don't get football." That thought could not have been further from the truth.

Against the Grain is a tale of perseverance, hard work, faith in humanity, faith in yourself, leadership, business, and giving it your all, every single day. As I worked my way through the 14 chapters--Bill's 14 tenants on living a successful life--I found the writing, the stories, and the format resonating with me on a personal level.

--The story of the woman who sat outside of the Martin Luther King Jr museum for years in protest of something she believed in strongly;
--The heartbreaking and yet uplifting tale of the football player who paralyzed an opposing player during a game-changing both of their lives forever;
--And the story of sacrifice represented by Bill's business partner in his lumber company.

These were just a few of the real-life examples Bill provides that hit you where it hurts and get you thinking, "I could do more. I could do better." This is not a book that you can walk away from unchanged. Whether you're a sports enthusiast, or you can barely stand sports, it doesn't matter. Bill Courtney's Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love is about life, success, failure, and universal truths we can all understand and relate to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was one of the students at Rosemark Academy during Coach Courtney's time there. I count him among the greatest teachers I had at any level of education, elementary through doctoral. He was the man who taught me as an eighth grader how to read a novel, what the "elbow" is on a basketball court, why a "knight on the rim is grim", and gave me a base for developing leadership.

One of the things I really enjoyed while reading Against the Grain was seeing how Billy's thoughts on leadership have coalesced since I knew him in his 20's. Even then as a fresh college grad his focus was on character. Many of the principles he presents resonate with what I'm learning about leadership: the fundamental importance of serving those you lead, the power of grace, the importance of understanding responsibility versus duty.

What gratifies me most about seeing the differences between Coach Courtney at age 22 and Mr. Courtney in his 40s now is this: he developed. It's not that he's a better person now than he was then; it's that he's more effective. He has reflected on his principles and values, he's focused his choices based on those reflections, and he's become more effective at everything he does now. His articulations of those lessons in Against the Grain are his gift to us.

Many of us have heroes from our childhood, and Coach is one of mine. That said, I don't want to be like Billy. His life, as far as I can tell, has always been a ridiculous hurricane of activity and risk that I have no appetite for. I do, however, want to develop like him. I want to take advantage of the privileges I have, the knowledge I've gained, the grace I've been afforded, and the values I've developed. I want to use them to raise my own four children to become Christ followers, to make life a little better for the men and women who work with me, to be a worthy husband, and to fulfill better all of those responsibilities tomorrow than I do today.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved, loved, loved this book. I was given it by a friend and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. Bill's tenants and real-life are insightful and illustrate what it takes to be a leader. If you're looking for a great read then get this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd actually recommend this book, and even if you're not from the South (like me), you'd read it in a Southern Accent. That's because Bill is humble and honest in his testimony about his own failures and successes. You can hear and understand his own humble beginnings and how he uses his own experiences as teaching points. I read the book after watching Undefeated, which is the documentary he's in. If you watched and liked the documentary, you'd love the book.

Don't think that you need to be a football fan or even understand football to enjoy the book. He just uses football as a way to explain his lessons and wisdom, which makes sense since he IS a high school football coach, after all. If you ever played a sport in high school, the book feels like your old coach is sitting next to you, having a heart-to-heart.

This is a great book and an easy read. Courtney paints a clear, vivid picture accented with his Southern, Football-loving charm. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better and clearer book on defining character.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is written by a fellow Memphian (TN) that had donated his time to a high school whose student body was primarily African American to coach their football team going for the first time to the state championships winning second place. He saw to it that the students realized the importance of passing their academics. This story was the basis for the film, Undefeated. This experience along with having started a new business and events in his personal life make it a "Must Read" for almost anyone. As the subtitle states it is sharing his wisdom on Character, Faith, Family and Love.
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