College-Football Early-College-Football-T See All Results For This Question New Book Reveals Untold Story of First Rose Bowl at 100-Year Anniversary

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New Book Reveals Untold Story of First Rose Bowl at 100-Year Anniversary

Chance for Glory is the kind of book that great sports movies are made of. It has everything a true sports fan or lover of a good story could want, from a compelling plot to interesting characters, a blend of history, plenty of action, and a fair dose of of humor. And it was released just in time to celebrate the one hundred year anniversary of the first Rose Bowl game played by Washington State College against Brown University in 1916.

Since the author Darin Watkins is an alumnus of what is now Washington State University, his focus, of course, is on the Washington team, and he begins the story by describing for us a young school that is struggling to survive against its larger rival, the University of Washington, which wants to limit what its sister school can teach.

The opening chapter describes a fascinating early football game from 1912 played at West Point—a game that had among its players Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe and future US general and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. One of the coaches in that game was “Pop” Warner, the man who coached William Dietz and recommended him as the coach of Washington State College when it needed a good coach.

Washington State has a long history of losing football games, but Coach Dietz is making a quick turnaround. I will let readers explore his methods for themselves, but I will say that he is very innovative. What’s even more remarkable is that he was a Native American at a time when racism was at the forefront. In 1915, when he became the coach of the Washington State Cougars, it had only been twenty-five years since the Wounded Knee massacre. But it didn’t take long for Dietz to gain the confidence of his players and make them believe that they could succeed not only as a team but as a formidable opponent to other teams throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The following events are like a running film montage of a winning streak, and yet, Watkins takes the time to describe each play and each big play, and he brings these historic people in life, investing feelings and emotions in them, this book reads like a good historical fiction, but full of facts. Each of the players will be an individual for us, and we know them on and off the football field, including, in some cases, which women they have dated. The amount of research Watkins has done to put all these pieces together and gain insight into his characters is amazing, and he documents it all, yet the book seamlessly reads like a novel more than a history. .

As the Cougars piled up victory after victory, they began to gain national attention, and soon, they were invited to participate in the first Rose Bowl Tournament. Of course, the Rose Bowl is a big deal today, but in 1915, no one was sure it would succeed. Watkins describes the committee’s struggles to gain attention and sell tickets, the first Tournament of Roses parade, the publicity, and the overall results that transformed the tournament into an American institution.

An interesting aspect of the Rose Bowl was that the Cougars, because they were going to Pasadena, were invited to participate in a Hollywood film-Tom Brown Goes to Harvard-part of a popular silent film series of the day, which includes football. game. Watkins’ presentation of this look at early filmmaking is fascinating and humorous.

And then it’s on to the Rose Bowl. Watkins filled us in on every play, every joy, every worry, and in the end, the big win. Through the written word, Watkins provides a highly visual story of a history-making event.

Few American stories of overcoming adversity are as exciting and fun to read as Chance for Glory. Watkins’ ability to bring history alive places this book alongside other great examples of historical storytelling such as Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City about the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, and its triumphant message is worthy of a wonderful Disney film.

How wonderful that Watkins has timed this book to appear on the 100th anniversary of the Rose Bowl. The efforts of the Washington State Cougars give new life and meaning to the game of football by reminding us that anyone with courage and a dream can succeed, whether in sports or anything else.

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