It’s 1970 in Wilkins, Indiana, and Judi Wilson longs to play basketball instead of cheering from the bleachers. Five years later, she’s a cheerleading senior in high school when she hears an announcement that Wilkins Regional High School is going to have a girls’ basketball team! With only eight girls going out for the team, everyone makes the cut. However, the girls don’t have real uniforms, buses to away games, meal money, or equal access to the high school gym. Judi and her teammates present their demands to the Athletic Director, but they face an uphill battle. With some grassroots publicity and the dedicated support of Coach Montez (plus electrical tape for putting numbers on their t-shirts), the “Lady Bears” make it all the way to Indiana’s first-ever girls’ basketball state championship! Do they have what it takes to bring home the trophy? Hoops was inspired by the true story of the 1976 Warsaw High School girls’ basketball team (read the Author’s Note for more details). Matt Tavares’ gentle, retro color palette of brick red, olive green, and turquoise (and orange basketballs, of course!) perfectly situates this story in a particular time and place: Indiana in 1976. It’s full-to-bursting with heart and exciting moments on the court.
THOUGHTS: Hoops is a stand-out all-ages read with connections to Women’s History Month, March Madness, Title IX, and more!