The Long Shot by Ellen Hartman - Romance>Contemporary
Deacon Fallon has made something of himself. Yeah, it wasn't easy becoming a successful--now retired--pro basketball player, but he did it. In the process, he made his brother's life better. That's always been Deacon's goal.
This latest effort to help, however, may push Deacon too far. He's been roped into coaching the high school girls' team! Worse, there's a little offside action brewing between him and his hot assistant coach, Julia Bradley. Definitely not in his plans, but he can't resist her. And for the first time, Deacon wants something that has nothing to do with his brother and everything to do with Julia!
"I'm sorry--did you say they cut the entire athletic budget?" Julia pushed her chair back from her desk and stood to face Ty Chambers, ex-jock, current jerk, her boss and the principal of Milton High School.
"The district is in real financial trouble, Julia. You know this. The budget was voted down and we're on austerity spending. It's one of the compromises the board had to make to preserve resources for student necessities like Advanced Placement classes and guidance staff."
He gestured around her office with a look that clearly showed how little he thought of her kind of necessity.
Julia's guidance office wasn't really an office. The cubicle was carved out of a corner of the library and assembled from movable walls. It wasn't even big enough for angry pacing, which was what she needed to do right now to avoid saying something to Ty that would get her fired.
"But the whole athletic department? The board actually cut the boys' basketball program? No Milton Tigers?"
"Yes, the board cut the entire department," Ty affirmed.
Ty had been a Milton Tiger; he was wearing his state championship ring on his hand today as he did every day. He'd gained at least fifty pounds since his playing days, so the ring was probably stuck on his finger, but no doubt a guy like him saw that as a bonus--a perma-ring to match the Tiger tattoo he'd likely gotten during his freshman season. Most ex-Tigers took the team more seriously than they took just about anything, yet Ty was standing calmly in her office, telling her they'd cut the program. Right.
"The boosters put the money back for the boys, didn't they?" she asked. Not that she needed to. A first-grader would have known the answer.
The Milton Tigers basketball boosters, an independent club made up of former players, parents, community leaders and anyone who wanted to be part of the fever that gripped Milton every Friday during basketball season, was flush with cash and power. The boosters funded all kinds of perks for the boys and their fans. Why not a whole season?
"Community support through the boosters is funding some programs, enabling them to continue at their current levels despite the board cuts," Ty intoned. She moved a stack of files filled with the names of kids who needed so much more than she could offer back from the edge of her desk, praying for self-control. Ty never spouted that community-support line spontaneously. It was a rehearsed speech to cut off arguments about why her girls' team of basketball players would be sitting home this winter while the boys' team went on undisturbed. "Some programs like boys' basketball."
"The Tigers are the heart of Milton High. You know that."
Ty was right. She knew all about Tigers basketball. She knew the Tigers regularly turned out state championship teams and that the booster support for one athletic team in a small community like Milton was astounding. She knew the boys' basketball team had fewer scholar-athletes and more kids who walked a thin line between exhibiting high spirits and committing juvenile offenses than any other team in the school. She also knew the sexual favors the Tiger cheerleaders allegedly handed out to the team went beyond anything their parents could conceive of. So yes, she knew what the Tigers meant to the school and she didn't like much of it.
"Boys' basketball survives and everything else gets cut?"
"Boys' basketball has the only team with an active boosters group. Other teams can start cultivating community funding."
"Basketball season begins in two...