On a Theme: Sports fiction for YA Readers

Sports! I have never been on a team or dedicated myself much to organized sports beyond watching figure skating, rooting for the national teams during the Olympics, and playing badminton with friends at the park during the summer.

It is interesting to me though the camraderie and connection to be found between team members to achieve a goal, the love of the sport, the dedication to improving your skills, and what happens when we link our identities with a sport.

This On a Theme post is dedicated to those books and graphic novels featuring teens in sports. It sort of goes without saying that I wanted to really include books in this list where female characters are the ones playing the sport, because we are so often treated as less, even when playing the same sport and bringing the trophy home.



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Title: Throw Like a Girl
Written by: Sarah Henning

What It’s About: When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince its coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the spring. But it will take more than just a flawless spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charismatic smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

With lovable characters and a charming quarterback love interest, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.


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Title: The Game Can’t Love You Back
Written by: Karole Cozzo

What It’s About: Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s learned to focus on one thing and one thing only-being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He can’t afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher-especially to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?


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Title: Cold Day in the Sun
Written by: Sara Biren

What It’s About: Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.


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Title: Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks Series)
Written by: Miranda Kenneally

What It’s About: Athletic superstar Jordan Woods is the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. Her teammates, including her best friend Sam, all see her as their leader and one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

Buteverything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he”s also amazingly cute. Meanwhile, Sam is her rock – he supports Jordan’s dreams even when her traditional dad doesn’t – but suddenly things feel different between them. For the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

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Title: Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks Series)
Written by: Miranda Kenneally

What It’s About: Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother”s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three. Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

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Title: Defending Taylor (Hundred Oaks Series)
Written by: Miranda Kenneally

What It’s About: There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she”s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?


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Title: Home and Away
Written by: Candice Montgomery

What It’s About: Friday Night Lights meets Dear Martin in this thought-provoking coming-of-age story about family, identity, and forgiveness. Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team. But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them-but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.


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Title: The Passing Playbook
Written by: Isaac Fitzsimons

What It’s About: Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing.

But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he”s falling for.


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Title: Cracking the Bell
Written by: Geoff Herbach

What It’s About: Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.

While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can’t win without him. The scholarship offer from Cornell is only on the table if he keeps playing.

And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?

Isaiah must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.


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Title: Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1)
Written by: Abbi Glines

What It’s About: To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…


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Title: First & Then
Written by: Emma Mills

What It’s About: Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them – first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life


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Title: Every Reason We Shouldn’t
Written by: Sara Fujimura

What It’s About: Sixteen-year-old figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She’s bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of trying to live up to expectations of being the daughter of Olympians Michael Kennedy and Midori Nakashima…until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink.

Jonah’s driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying. and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia’s got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?


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Title: Furia
Written by: Yamile Saied Mendez

What It’s About: In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.


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Title: Break the Fall
Written by: Jennifer Iacopelli

What It’s About: Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?


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Title: Tumbling
Written by: Caela Carter

What It’s About:

Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.


And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.


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Title: The Knockout
Written by: Sajni Patel (aka. S.A. Patel)

What It’s About: If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport weren’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, excelling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse. Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride—she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history—if she has the courage to go for it.


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Title: She Drives Me Crazy
Written by: Kelly Quindlen

What It’s About: After an embarrassing loss to her ex-girlfriend in their first basketball game of the season, seventeen-year-old Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, Irene Abraham, head cheerleader for the Fighting Reindeer.

Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene”s car to the shop for weeks” worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier.

But when an opportunity arises for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex-and climb her school’s social ladder-she bribes Irene into an elaborate fake- dating scheme that threatens to reveal some very real feelings.


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Title: Breath Like Water
Written by: Anna Jarzab

What It’s About: A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.


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Title: Ramona Blue
Written by: Julie Murphy

What It’s About: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi.

But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke.

Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.


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Title: How to Breathe Underwater
Written by: Vicky Skinner

What It’s About: Kate has spent her whole life working to be the best swimmer in order to earn her father’s love, until he betrayed her and her family. Now, she’s forced to start over and figure out what swimming really means to her, in this contemporary young adult debut from Vicky Skinner.

Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she”s been a part of her whole life.

Now in a new home and new school, faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.

As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?


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Title: We Are the Wildcats
Written by: Siobhan Vivian

What It’s About: Tomorrow, the Wildcat varsity field hockey squad will play the first game of their new season. But at tonight’s team sleepover, the girls are all about forging the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship necessary to win.

Everything hinges on the midnight initiation ceremony—a beloved tradition and the only facet of being a Wildcat that the girls control. Until now.

Coach—a handsome former college player revered and feared in equal measure—changes the plan and spins his team on a new adventure. One where they take a rival team’s mascot for a joyride, crash a party in their pajamas, break into the high school for the perfect picture.

But as the girls slip out of their comfort zone, so do some long-held secrets. And just how far they’re willing to go for their team takes them all—especially Coach—by surprise.

A testament to the strength and resilience of modern teenage girls, We Are the Wildcats will have readers cheering.


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Title: See No Color
Written by: Shannon Gibney

What It’s About: Being a transracial adoptee doesn’t bother sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge-at least, not in a way she can explain to her white family. It doesn’t matter that she’s biracial when she’s the star of the baseball team. But when Alex is off the field, she”s teased for “acting” too white and judged for looking black. And while she loves her parents, her hot-headed brother, and her free-speaking sister, they don’t seem to understand what it means that Reggie, a fellow ball player, is the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her.

Things only get more complicated when she finds hidden letters from her birth father. Alex can’t stop asking questions. Does she really fit in with her family? What would it be like to go to a black hairdresser? Should she contact her birth father, despite the fact that it might devastate her parents? Meanwhile, her body is changing, and Alex isn’t sure she can keep up with her teammates. If she’s going to find answers, Alex must come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.


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Title: Game
Written by: Walter Dean Myers

What It’s About: Drew Lawson knows basketball is taking him places. It has to, because his grades certainly aren”t. But lately his plan has run squarely into a pick. Coach has handed the ball to another player—Tomas, a new guy from Europe—and Drew won”t let anyone disrespect his game. Just as his team makes the playoffs, Drew must come up with something big to save his fading college prospects. It”s all up to Drew to find out just how deep his game really is.


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Title: All the Things We Never Knew
Written by: Liara Tamani

What It’s About: A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.

Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse.


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Title: After the Shot Drops
Written by: Randy Ribay

What It’s About: Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.

When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.


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Title: Here to Stay
Written by: Sara Farizan

What It’s About:

Bijan Majidi is:

Shy around girls
Really into comics
Decent at basketball
Bijan Majidi is not:
A terrorist

What happens when a kid who’s flown under the radar for most of high school gets pulled off the bench to make the winning basket in a varsity playoff game?

If his name is Bijan Majidi, life is suddenly high fives in the hallways and invitations to exclusive parties—along with an anonymous photo sent by a school cyberbully that makes Bijan look like a terrorist.

The administration says they’ll find and punish the culprit. Bijan wants to pretend it never happened. He’s not ashamed of his Middle Eastern heritage; he just doesn’t want to be a poster child for Islamophobia. Lots of classmates rally around Bijan. Others make it clear they don’t want him or anybody who looks like him at their school. But it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends.


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Title: Winger (Winger #1)
Written by: Andrew Smith

What It’s About: A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.


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Title: Blacktop: Justin (Blacktop #1)
Written by: LJ Alonge
Illustrations by: Raul Allen

What It’s About: Justin has a list of goals stashed under his mattress. Number 1 is “figure out life plans.” Number 5 is “earn Zen Master rating in WoW.” Nowhere on that list is “play the crew from Ghosttown,” but that”s the type of trouble that always seems to finds him.

The debut title from LJ Alonge’s new basketball series pulses with action on and off the court. With wit, humor, and honesty, Justin unfolds over one hot summer.


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Title: Dont’ Hate the Player
Written by: Alexis Nedd

What It’s About: Emilia Romero is living a double life. By day, she’s a field hockey star with a flawless report card. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate. That’s in part to keep her real-life persona, but also for her own safety, since girl gamers are often threatened and harassed.

When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to her team and the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team recognizes her . . .

Jake Hooper has had a crush on Emilia since he was ten years old. When his underdog eSports team makes it into the tournament, he’s floored to discover she”s been leading a double life. The fates bring Jake and Emilia together as they work to keep her secret, even as the pressures of the tournament and their non-gaming world threaten to pull everything apart.


Note: This novel is set to be released on June 1, 2021.



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Title: Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey
Written & illustrated by: Ngozi Ukazu

What It’s About: Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack-his very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.


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Title: Fence Vol. 1
Written by: C.S. Pacat
Illustrated by: Johanna the Mad

What It’s About: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges.


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Title: The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1
Written by: Carly Usdin
Illustrated by: Noah Hayes

What It’s About: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.


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Title: A Map to the Sun
Written & illustrated by: Sloane Leong

What It’s About: One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.

Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women”s basketball team at their high school.

With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.

Sloane Leong’s evocative storytelling about the lives of these young women is an ode to the dynamic nature of friendship.


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Title: Haikyu!! Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Haruichi Furudate

What It’s About: Shoyo Hinata is out to prove that in volleyball you don”t need to be tall to fly!

Ever since he saw the legendary player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever! Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?

After losing his first and last volleyball match against Tobio Kageyama, “the King of the Court,” Shoyo Hinata swears to become his rival after graduating middle school. But what happens when the guy he wants to defeat ends up being his teammate?!


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Title: Sayonara, Football Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Naoshi Arakawa

What It’s About: Midori and Sumire are soccer stars at rival middle schools, destined to collide–one’s a striker, the other”s a goalie. But the two girls end up in the same high school, with a lazy coach and a bizarre teammate, Nozomi, who brags that she’s a soccer prodigy but can’t seem to stop kicking the ball into her own goal. To become champions, Midori and Sumire will have to get over their rivalry and work some magic on the field — not to mention the challenges of growing up.


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Title: Kuroko’s Basketball, Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Tadatoshi Fujimaki

What It’s About: Seirin High’s greatest basketball superstar was the one no one literally saw coming—the invisible Kuroko!

Tetsuya Kuroko doesn’t stand out much. In fact, he’s so plain that people hardly ever notice when he’s around. Though he’s just as unremarkable on the basketball court, that’s where his plainness gives him an unexpected edge—one that lets him execute awesome moves without others noticing!

When incoming first-year student Taiga Kagami joins the Seirin High basketball team, he meets Tetsuya Kuroko, a mysterious boy who’s plain beyond words. But Kagami’s in for the shock of his life when he learns that the practically invisible Kuroko was once a member of “the Miracle Generation”— the undefeated legendary team—and he wants Kagami’s help taking down each of his old teammates!


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Title: The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Takeshi Konomi

What It’s About: A tennis prodigy leads his handsome tennis club to victory at the national tournament.

Four-time consecutive U.S. Junior tournament champ Ryoma Echizen comes to Seishun Academy to further his reign as The Prince of Tennis. His skill is matched only by his attitude–irking some but impressing all as he leads his team to the Nationals and beyond!

There is a rumor going around that a twelve-year-old boy is going to enter the sixteen-year-old and under tennis group. How can someone so young ever hope to compete with kids much older and more experienced than him? This is no ordinary kid: he is none other than Ryoma Echizen, the Prince of Tennis! Ryoma’s father was destined for greatness until he injured himself during a match, ending his career forever. His talent was passed on to his son, who is determined to be the best tennis player in the world. Can the prince gain the respect of his fellow teammates despite his small size and young age? Find out in this intense sports manga!


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Title: Chihayafuru, Vol. 1
Written and illustrated: Yuki Suetsugu

What It’s About: Chihaya is a girl in the sixth grade, still not old enough to even know the meaning of the word zeal. But one day, she meets Arata, a transfer student from rural Fukui prefecture. Though docile and quiet, he has an unexpected skill: his ability to play competitive karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. Chihaya is struck by his obsession with the game, along with his ability to pick out the right card and swipe it away before any of his opponents. However, Arata is transfixed by her as well, all because of her unbelievable natural talent for the game. Don’t miss the first volume in this story of adolescent lives and emotions playing out in the most dramatic of ways.

3 thoughts on “On a Theme: Sports fiction for YA Readers

  1. This is a fantastic list of sporty YA reads! I personally struggle with getting into sports in YA prose (I prefer graphic novels/manga), but Furia and She Drives Me Crazy are two that I’m so looking forward to reading! I’ve read Avant Guards and Map To The Sun, those two graphic novels are my favorites. A lovely post! 😍💕

    Liked by 1 person

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