On Saturday, August 27, 2005, the John Curtis Patriots met for a grueling practice in the late summer New Orleans sun, the air a visible fog of humidity. They had pulled off a 19-0 shutout in their preseason game the night before, but it was a game full of dumb mistakes. Head coach J. T. Curtis was determined to drill those mistakes out of them before their highly anticipated next game, which sportswriters had dubbed "the Battle of the Bayou", against a big team coming in all the way from Utah. As fate played out, that afternoon was the last time the Patriots would see one another for weeks; some teammates they'd never see again. Hurricane Katrina was about to tear their lives apart. The Patriots are a most unlikely football dynasty. Theirs is a small, nondescript, family-run school, the buildings constructed by hand by the school's founding patriarch, John Curtis, Sr. In this era of high-school football as big business, with 20,000-seat stadiums, John Curtis has no stadium of its own. The team plays an old-school offense, and Coach Curtis insists on a no-cut policy, giving every kid who wants to play a chance.
As of 2005, they'd won 19 state championships in Curtis' 35 years of coaching, making him the second most winning high-school coach ever. Curtis has honed to a fine art the skill of teaching players how to transcend their natural talents. No screamer, he strives to teach kids about playing with purpose, the power of respect, dignity, poise, patience, trust in teamwork, and the payoff of perseverance, showing them how to be winners not only on the gridiron but in life, and making boys into men. Hurricane Katrina would put those lessons to the test of a lifetime.
Hurricane Season is the story of a great coach, his team, his family, and their school - and a remarkable fight back from shocking tragedy.
"A truly extraordinary example of boys and men facing raw trauma and striking back with both passion and purpose." (Jeffrey Marx, author of A Season of Life)
"A rousing, well-told tale that is poignant and inspirational. With grace and beauty, Neal Thompson shows us that the human spirit cannot be conquered, even in the ashes of Katrina." (Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights)
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