16 July, 2020

#Spotlight :: Monsters of the Midway 1969 by Jeff Rasley - @jeffrasley

About the Book:
Check out the Book on Amazon
The book is a historical account of Amos Alonzo Stagg's legendary football dynasty at the University of Chicago. The Maroon's rise and fall and the resurrection of Chicago Football in 1969 is interwoven with a love story.
From 1892 until the 1930s the legendary Monsters of the Midway dominated college football. Incredibly, in 1939 the University of Chicago dropped its varsity football program and later left the Big Ten. But, in 1969, football was back.
The resumption of Chicago football didn't bring the Monsters fully back to life. The resurrected team is called "the worst team in college ball" by People Magazine. Players skip practices and flout NCAA rules. They lose game after game. Their old coach, Wally Hass, is the rare football coach who truly believes student-athletes should be scholars first and athletes for fun. Wally also desperately wants his players to experience winning one game before he retires.
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, the Draft Lottery, the anti-war movement, and student rebellion on college campuses in 1969 -- the University of Chicago is swimming against the cultural tide by resurrecting its football program. Jack Blair is a small town Hoosier kid who joins the football team for ulterior reasons. In Chicago he encounters characters as diverse as Muhammad Ali, Milton Friedman, and Papa Bear George Halas. And, he falls in love.
Alice hates football, but she is attracted to Jack. She wears a beret. He wears a helmet. She is a radical feminist from Chicago. He is a Hoosier farm boy.

Read an Excerpt from Monsters of the Midway 1969

Jack turned in his pads and practice uniform at the end of the two weeks of preseason double-practices his junior year in high school. He decided to quit the third day of doubles. He waited to inform the coach until the two weeks of grueling daily double-practices were over. He didn’t want to be accused by the coach or his teammates of quitting because he wasn’t tough enough. Sure, surviving the four hours of football drills in the August humidity of Southern Indiana was tough. But that was not the reason Jack quit the football team.

One reason he quit was based on a cost-benefit analysis. The cost of giving up every autumn to football was not worth the benefit. He was already a three-sport letterman for the Owls in football, swimming, and track. In what little spare time he had, Jack loved to hike the hills and fish the streams of the backwoods around his home in Jackson County, Indiana. When he finished with summer chores, he also loved to sit under the big oak tree in the front yard of the Blairs’ farmhouse reading a book. Solitude with Nature and improving his mind through reading touched Jack Blair’s soul in a way that playing football did not.

Jack did love playing sports and he enjoyed being part of a team. He recognized that his loner tendency, if given too much rein, could be unhealthy and needed to be tempered with a social life. In small-town Indiana playing on sports teams was one of the few available social outlets. But, while he liked playing football and being on a team with his high school buddies, he considered most of the time spent in practice an utter waste of time. It was not playing football. In swimming, the team swam. During track season, the runners ran. Preseason football practice was spent doing boring and, in Jack’s mind, needlessly painful drills. Bear crawls, push-ups, barrel rolls, neck bridges, and jumping jacks consumed large chunks of practice time.

Another reason Jack quit football was the result of serious self examination. He was sixteen, well read, and thoughtful. In the mid Sixties the country was beginning to turn against the war in Viet Nam. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum with increasing and escalating acts of civil disobedience. The United States was divided and people were choosing sides. Were you for or against equal rights for minorities and women; for or against the War in Viet Nam; for Elvis or the Beatles? Jack was beginning to feel ready to choose which side he wanted to be on. Continuing to play football seemed sort of contrary to the side he was drawn to. Counter-culture voices Jack had tuned into, like Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan had turned him on to a zeit geist much different from the small-town Midwestern traditional-values he’d grown up with. Jack heard those voices scorning football and rah-rah team spirit as uncool and a facet of the military-industrial establishment.

He didn’t actually hear any particular counter-cultural hero condemn the game of football, but that was his sense of it. He could feel the country and culture changing and he wanted to be with the future not the past.

At the end of the afternoon practice on the third day of doubles, Jack’s flat-topped ex-US Marines high-school coach lined up all the players. With spittle flying from his lips the coach stomped along the line of players growling and yelling. He punched each of the players in the stomach and shouted, “Tough as nails!” That did it for Jack. That was the moment he decided the cost wasn’t worth the benefit. It wasn’t the punch. It was the insufferable behavior of his coach. He decided he wasn’t going to put up with that kind of Fascist shit anymore. After the last practice of the preseason he quit.

About the Author:
Jeff Rasley is the author of ten books; the most recent is You Have to Get Lost Before You Can Be Found: A Memoir of Suffering, Grit, and Love of the Himalayas and Basa Village.  He has published numerous articles in academic and mainstream periodicals, including Newsweek, Chicago Magazine, ABA Journal, Family Law Review, The Journal of Communal Societies, and Friends Journal.  He is an award-winning photographer and his pictures taken in the Himalayas and Caribbean and Pacific islands have been published in several journals.  He has appeared as a featured guest on over 100 radio and podcast programs.

Author's Amazon Page
Rasley has engaged in social activism and philanthropic efforts from an early age.  In high school he co-founded the Goshen Walk for Hunger.  In law school he was an advocate for renters' rights as the leader of the first rent strike in Indiana, and he served as a lobbyist and president of the Indianapolis Tenants Association.  As an attorney for Legal Services organization he was lead counsel on two class action suits on behalf of prisoners which resulted in judgments requiring the construction of two new jails in Central Indiana.  Jeff founded free legal clinics at two inner-city churches. He was the lead plaintiff in a class action requiring the clean-up of the White River after it was polluted by an industrial chemical spill.  Jeff is the founder and former president of the Basa Village Foundation USA, which raises money for culturally sensitive development work in the Basa area of Nepal.  He currently serves as president of Scientech, which promotes science education, and is a director of five other nonprofit organizations.

Jeff retired from the practice of law in 2010.  He is a partner in the eBook publishing company Midsummer Books and provides writer-coaching services.  He is U.S. liaison for the Nepal-based Himalayan expedition company, Adventure GeoTreks Ltd.  He has taught classes for IUPUI Continuing Ed. Program, Indiana Writers Center, and Butler and Marian Universities.

Jeff is a graduate of the University of Chicago, A.B. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, All-Academic All-State Football Team and letter winner in swimming and football; Indiana University School of Law, J.D. cum laude, Moot Court and Indiana Law Review; Christian Theological Seminary, M.Div. magna cum laude, co-valedictorian and Faculty Award Scholar.  He has been admitted to the Indiana, U.S. District Court, and U.S. Supreme Court Bars.

For chairing the Indiana-Tennessee Civic Memorial Commission Rasley and the Commission received Proclamations of Salutation from the Governors of Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania and he was made an honorary Lieutenant Colonel Aide-de-Camp of the Alabama State Militia, a Kentucky Colonel and honorary Citizen of Tennessee.  He was given a Key to the City of Indianapolis for serving as an intern to Mayor Hudnut and preparing a report on the safety conditions of all Indy Parks.  Rasley has received the Man of the Year award from the Arthur Jordan YMCA and the Alumni Service Award from the University of Chicago.

Jeff is an avid outdoorsman and recreational athlete.  He leads trekking-mountaineering expeditions in Nepal and has solo-kayaked around several Pacific island groups.  He also loves to read and considers completing Marcel Proust’s 3600 page Remembrance of Things Past as great an adventure as climbing Himalayan peaks and solo-kayaking Pacific islands.

He is married to Alicia Rasley, an English professor and the author of historical romances and writing craft books.  Alicia is a RITA Award winner and her novel The Year She Fell" was an Amazon-Kindle best-seller.  Son James is an officer in the National Guard, and Andrew is a tech supervisor with a film and TV production company in LA.

Jeff on the Web:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * LinkedIn * Pinterest


1 Amazon Gift Card worth 1000/- INR 
1 Paperback Copy of Monsters of the Midway 1969 by Jeffrey Rasley 
1 eBook of The Loyalist's Wife (The Loyalist Trilogy #1) by Elaine Cougler 
1 eBook of The Raided Heart (Historic Hearts, #1) by Jennifer C. Wilson 

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