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Trailblazing: The True Story of America's First Openly Gay Track Coach Paperback – May 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555835244
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555835248
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,214,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Today the issue of gay people in athletics is bigger than ever. Anderson is a vivid writer, and weaves personal, professional and political experiences into a powerful first-person story of real-life Front Runner-a gay track coach and his school team battling homophobia, struggling for athletic victory and human recognition in their sport."

-- Patricia Nell Warren author of The Front Runner

"Trailblazing blazes a new trail, just as The Front Runner did 25 years ago. This is an insider's view of running, coaching, high school life, and the gay community that proves truth is indeed stranger than fiction. You don't need to be an athlete to read this; all that's necessary is an interest in the human 'race'!" -- Dan Woog author of Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes

About the Author

Coach Eric Anderson was only 25 years old when he authored his first book, Training Games, and came out of the closet as California's first openly gay high school coach at Huntington Beach High School. Today he coaches at Saddleback College and is working on his Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
This book should be required reading in all high school classes.
S. Miller
This is not only a story of the homophobia track coach Eric "Gumby" Anderson experienced, but the homophobia his runners experience as well.
Dale Giesige
There is still much work to be done, and his story shows that genuine progress comes from courageous acts of individual initiative and persistence.
Nikos A. Leverenz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James P. Tyler, Jr on June 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Anderson's TRAILBLAZING burns a trail right into your heart. I had a hard time putting it down to get on with my day. I am a retired educator in music; not a sports fan. This story could convert me. Anderson is fun to read. I love the anectdotes. Most captivating is to see how he tells the story as related to his runners. Parents of the runners are heroes also. This is an important story for gay, straight and all concerned! It will move and shake you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karen on November 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
I currently have a class with Gumby (Soc of Sport @ UCI), and reading this book was one of the requirements. However, it wasn't just another class textbook--in addition to being educational, it was extremely inspiring. I have not been exposed to many gays or lesbians (maybe a few lesbians and bisexuals here and there, but I was never close to them), in fact, I have been exposed to more conservative, anti-homosexual, and heterosexist views for most of my life, so many of the things Gumby brought up in his book were new to me. For instance, I never really thought about how hard it must be not just for a person to come "out of the closet" but how it would affect his close ones. Though I'm not close to Gumby, I learned a little more about how and why he thinks certain ways, mainly due to his treatment and experiences before and after "coming out". In addition to learning about issues on homosexuality, heterosexism, and how hegemonic masculinity can be, I learned more about how these issues are dealt with in the school administrative and sports arena through Gumby's experience. If you are interested in these sociological issues, or just want inspirational/motivational support in coming out as a homosexual, then READ THIS BOOK! It has definitely changed my view on homosexuality forever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dale Giesige on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
An amazing true story about a high school coach who comes out to his athletes and school - and experiences the repercussions afterwards. This is not only a story of the homophobia track coach Eric "Gumby" Anderson experienced, but the homophobia his runners experience as well.
But if this book was only about homophobia it wouldn't be a great book. This book is not only about track: it's not only about teamwork; it's also about dedication and friendship and especially being true to one's self. Qualities some people search for all their lives but never find.
"Gumby" writes in a style that's welcoming, friendly, and easy to pick up and gets the emotions going especially when it involves his runners - or the homophobic school politics. You'll get really frustrated and angry at the school principal in this story! After reading this book you know Gumby's dedication to his runners, and the dedication his runners have for him. By the last chapter, you are cheering the runners on, and wishing Gumby and his runners the very best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a parent of a former (hight school) track athlete, I have had the pleasure of getting to know coach Gumby, and knew something of the experiences he had as a coach at our local high school. I must say reading about it made it seem all the more amazing and incredible that anyone could perservere through all of this personal and professional adversity. Coach Gumby is a true trailblazer. The book is wonderful and a must read for anyone concerned about tolerance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nikos A. Leverenz on March 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am usually loathe to read biographies of individuals under the age of 40. As Benvenuto Cellini once wrote:
"All men. . . who have done anything of excellence, or which may properly resemble excellence, ought, if they are persons of truth and honesty, to describe their life with their own hand; but they ought not to attempt so fine an enterprise till they have passed the age of forty."
Coach Eric "Gumby" Anderson, however, is an exception to this admonition against youthful indulgence. While he glosses over the more personal aspects of his life, like coming out to a gay-friendly mother, his professional struggle to coach track at the high school level is more than worthy of book-length treatment.
Coach Gumby lives in less than an accommodating part of California (Orange County), though it is still probably more "socially progressive" than most other areas of the nation. He demonstrates that a steadfast commitment to pursue one's life calling -- the unyielding exercise of individual volition -- can overcome those orthodox cultural hurdles rooted in misinformation, fear, and the anti-social desire to exert power over other persons.
All persons - gay or straight - who yearn for a civic community where individuals are judged according to their unique merits and talents, as opposed to their "identity," shall find a superlative instructor in Coach Gumby. There is still much work to be done, and his story shows that genuine progress comes from courageous acts of individual initiative and persistence.
The human quest for freedom against the incursion of others' belligerence pertains to all, regardless of sexual orientation. I know that I am a much richer person for having read "Trailblazing," and I strongly encourage all parties to learn from, and empathize with, Coach Gumby's successes and failures (many of which were the product of others' shortcomings).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Randall Ivey on April 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am no fan of athletics or stories about same, but I found Eric Anderson's book an engaging memoir. He keeps the whining down to a minimum and provides instead a truly inspirational piece about an individual who would just not give up on attaining his goals, no matter what obstacles were strewn in his way. Sometimes I found myself skeptical at how easily and immediately accepting his friends, family, colleagues and students were of his homosexuality, but I am inclined to give Anderson the benefit of the doubt. He strikes me as an honest man. His life could certainly serve as some sort of model for young folks of all and any persuasions or predilections: perseverence is the key to success; hard work is unavoidable.
I would liked more about Eric's personal life, but perhaps that would have thrown the book out of focus, because TRAILBLAZING is as much about the talented young runners as it is their hard-headed, hard-working young coach. And if we are lucky, Anderson might even be penning a sequel that gives us further details about his life and loves. Let's hope.
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