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

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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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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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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,361,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Eric Anderson's book gives us a powerful and up-close look at sports in society and the importance of teamwork. Combining a rigorous account of the fast-paced high school distance races he coached to victory with a compelling and shocking journey, Anderson clearly illustrates homophobia is still very much present in our culture and that sport, when abused, reinforces and perpetuates discrimination and male dominance. His powerful journey urges us to form new perspectives on sport, the system that creates and manages it, and the ludicrous racist, sexist and homophobic beliefs which plague our society today. This book is truly a gem--a must read for every high school and college student and for anyone interested in sports, sociology or humanity.
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