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Matchsticks: An Education in Black and White

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The year was 1961, a year marking the start of the racial unrest that would last throughout the decade. Living in a trailer camp in Maryland with his wife and children, Fred's future seemed bleak--that is, until he heard a college football coach being interviewed on a local radio show talking about becoming a Physical Education teacher. The coach's words would inspire him The year was 1961, a year marking the start of the racial unrest that would last throughout the decade. Living in a trailer camp in Maryland with his wife and children, Fred's future seemed bleak--that is, until he heard a college football coach being interviewed on a local radio show talking about becoming a Physical Education teacher. The coach's words would inspire him enough to register at Maryland State College, a then all-black college. The thing of it was, Fred Engh was white. He would become the first white student to attend Maryland State, a segregated college. His intention was not to break any racial barriers or make any headlines. He simply wanted a better life for himself and his family as an accredited teacher. What he learned from attending that college however was something he had not expected. Matchsticks An Education in Black & White is his story. Fred Engh and his non-profit organization, NAYS--the National Alliance for Youth Sports--have positively affected the lives of millions of children throughout the country for decades, but chances are you have never heard of him or his group. What he has tried to do is make organized sports for kids fun. He has done this by training coaches to be fair, avoid playing favorites, bulling players, and stopping fans from getting out of control. He has also tried to even the playing field for children of different colors and ethnicities. From baseball to soccer to golf, he has made it his mission to let children choose to play the sport they love--no matter where they live or how well they play. And yet, the story behind how he discovered his calling in life is definitely a remarkable one of transition. Today, when racial disparagement has once again taken the form of marches, protesters, and daily news headlines, here is a tale of discovery, understanding, and personal change. A lesson still as valuable today as it was then.


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The year was 1961, a year marking the start of the racial unrest that would last throughout the decade. Living in a trailer camp in Maryland with his wife and children, Fred's future seemed bleak--that is, until he heard a college football coach being interviewed on a local radio show talking about becoming a Physical Education teacher. The coach's words would inspire him The year was 1961, a year marking the start of the racial unrest that would last throughout the decade. Living in a trailer camp in Maryland with his wife and children, Fred's future seemed bleak--that is, until he heard a college football coach being interviewed on a local radio show talking about becoming a Physical Education teacher. The coach's words would inspire him enough to register at Maryland State College, a then all-black college. The thing of it was, Fred Engh was white. He would become the first white student to attend Maryland State, a segregated college. His intention was not to break any racial barriers or make any headlines. He simply wanted a better life for himself and his family as an accredited teacher. What he learned from attending that college however was something he had not expected. Matchsticks An Education in Black & White is his story. Fred Engh and his non-profit organization, NAYS--the National Alliance for Youth Sports--have positively affected the lives of millions of children throughout the country for decades, but chances are you have never heard of him or his group. What he has tried to do is make organized sports for kids fun. He has done this by training coaches to be fair, avoid playing favorites, bulling players, and stopping fans from getting out of control. He has also tried to even the playing field for children of different colors and ethnicities. From baseball to soccer to golf, he has made it his mission to let children choose to play the sport they love--no matter where they live or how well they play. And yet, the story behind how he discovered his calling in life is definitely a remarkable one of transition. Today, when racial disparagement has once again taken the form of marches, protesters, and daily news headlines, here is a tale of discovery, understanding, and personal change. A lesson still as valuable today as it was then.

44 review for Matchsticks: An Education in Black and White

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A fantastic look at athletics and racism. I can’t put it into words the impact this book had on me. So many thoughts right now. All I can say is if you like sports and want to see the world as a better place read this book! Thank you for the goodreads giveaway.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    When Fred Engh decided to return to college to complete the last 2 years for his B. S. degree in Physical Education, he already had a wife and 2 children with another on the way. He no longer had his wrestling scholarship at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was teaching part-time at a local school and playing in his brother's band, he needed a school close to home. That would be Maryland State College, a college that until Fred being white, entered, was designated a “Black” school bu When Fred Engh decided to return to college to complete the last 2 years for his B. S. degree in Physical Education, he already had a wife and 2 children with another on the way. He no longer had his wrestling scholarship at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was teaching part-time at a local school and playing in his brother's band, he needed a school close to home. That would be Maryland State College, a college that until Fred being white, entered, was designated a “Black” school but one of many fine institutions in the South. The year was 1961, a year of racial turmoil. I can attest to this because I was a freshman that year but in a different part of the country where there was not overt segregation. Nevertheless, I consider Engh a very brave man. There was a lot of distrust on both sides when Engh began. The walls came down, one friend at a time. When one of them learned that he played golf, they decided to form a golf club to compete with other colleges in the area. The team consisted of 3 men who went on to become NFL stars: Bob Taylor, Earl Christy, Emerson Boozer: and Fred. Breaking the barriers of racism and changing attitudes doesn't happen overnight but Engh shows that it can be done. As one of his golfing team said, “When you get to know someone, his skin color disappears.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    I think I may be becoming a non-fiction/memoir lover. Or maybe this was just written so engagingly well. This book reads like a story. Which it is, yes, but hear me out. Sometimes I have picked up non-fictions and been bored because the "story" is written in such an uninteresting way that I lose interest pretty quickly. I won this in another give away off Goodreads and it is an advance review copy. Although I have had it for a little while due to already having books ahead of it before the new y I think I may be becoming a non-fiction/memoir lover. Or maybe this was just written so engagingly well. This book reads like a story. Which it is, yes, but hear me out. Sometimes I have picked up non-fictions and been bored because the "story" is written in such an uninteresting way that I lose interest pretty quickly. I won this in another give away off Goodreads and it is an advance review copy. Although I have had it for a little while due to already having books ahead of it before the new year. (oops) 🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️ Anyway.... Despite my aversion to non-fictions I really did enjoy this book. It was eye opening and entertaining at the same time. I really loved the yearly timelines that popped up between some of the chapters, which kind if gives you perspective while reading as far as what was going on around the country at the same time. I really loved that it wasn't overly packed with golf stuff like I initially thought it might be. All in all, a very insightful and enjoyable read. 10/10 would recommend! ***small SPOILER ALERT*** Emotional readers be prepared for a little bit of a tear jerking-ness at the last chapter.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Johnston

    This was a good short read that reminded me of Remember the Titans. The friendship that arose between the white and black players, seeing racism through someone else’s eyes and sports aspects made them similar. One of the parts I enjoyed most was the timeline of current events, so the reader could understand the climate at each time and also learn more about history! I’m in my 30’s and that really made it all the more interesting and relatable. I love a good memoir with a message! Thank you Good This was a good short read that reminded me of Remember the Titans. The friendship that arose between the white and black players, seeing racism through someone else’s eyes and sports aspects made them similar. One of the parts I enjoyed most was the timeline of current events, so the reader could understand the climate at each time and also learn more about history! I’m in my 30’s and that really made it all the more interesting and relatable. I love a good memoir with a message! Thank you Goodreads and the author/publisher for this giveaway.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michele Rice Carpenter

    In 1961, Fred Engh became the first white student to attend Maryland State College. He saw and experienced racism. He was forced to examine his own beliefs and behaviors. He became a better person for his experiences, and made lifelong friends. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to better understand segregation, desegregation, friendship, and US history. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura Valenziano

    The author shows, with his own life story, the impact a good teacher can have on a young person's life! To help other young people he has been inspired to create an organization for children to get involved in organized sports - the National Alliance for Youth Sports. The author has a very interesting story to tell and the book is engaging! The author shows, with his own life story, the impact a good teacher can have on a young person's life! To help other young people he has been inspired to create an organization for children to get involved in organized sports - the National Alliance for Youth Sports. The author has a very interesting story to tell and the book is engaging!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Jones

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sally

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Beamer

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Val

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Tan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  15. 4 out of 5

    Helen Geng

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  17. 5 out of 5

    Colby

  18. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

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    Anna Shields

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    Micielle

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    Sam

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    Jen Schlott

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    Mbk

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    Deborah Gerhart

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

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    Jo Logan

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    Donna

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    Edward

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    Sarah Meyer

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    Melissa ahmed

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    Linda Rudmann

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    Heather

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    Kathleen Hohler

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    Garrett

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    Deborah Hughes

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    Lori Piscicelli

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    Robin

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    Jill

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    Pam

  40. 5 out of 5

    LB Reads

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jay Lowe

  43. 4 out of 5

    Chip Howard

  44. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

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