On Thursday, February 9, 2023, award-winning author Andrew Maraniss will visit Delta State University to share his latest book, “Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team.” The event will take place in Jobe Hall Auditorium at 1:30 PM. This event is free and open to the DSU campus and general public. Mr. Maraniss will have a reading and book signing. Also, Mr. Maraniss will be at the Sillers Coliseum on the evening of February 9 with books for sale and signing available between the Delta State Lady Statemen’s basketball game and the Delta State Statemen’s basketball game. This event is sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, DSU Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Division of Social Sciences and History, and Division of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. Special thanks to Delta State University Athletics for their support and collaboration.
Andrew Maraniss is a New York Times-bestselling author of narrative nonfiction for teens and adults, focusing on the intersection of sports and social justice.
His first book, STRONG INSIDE, was the recipient of the 2015 Lillian Smith Book Award and the lone Special Recognition honor at the 2015 RFK Book Awards. The Young Reader edition was named one of the Top 10 Biographies and Top 10 Sports Books of 2017 by the American Library Association and was selected as a Notable Social Studies Book for 2019 by the National Council for the Social Studies.
His second book, GAMES OF DECEPTION, is the story of the first U.S. Olympic basketball team, which competed at the 1936 Summer Games in Nazi Germany. It received the 2020 Sydney Taylor Honor Award and was named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2019. Both the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Library Association honored it as a Notable Book of 2019.
His third book, SINGLED OUT, is a biography of Glenn Burke, the first openly gay Major League Baseball player. Esquire magazine named SINGLED OUT one of the “Top 100 Baseball Books Ever Written,” and the American Library Association named it to the 2022 Rainbow Book List. The Young Adult Library Services Association named the audio book version of SINGLED OUT one of the Top 10 audio books of the year for 2021.
His fourth book, published Sept. 13, 2022, is INAUGURAL BALLERS: The True Story of the First U.S. Women’s Olympic basketball team. “Twenty years before women’s soccer became an Olympic sport and two decades before the formation of the WNBA, the ’76 US women’s basketball team laid the foundation for the incredible rise of women’s sports in America at the youth, collegiate, Olympic, and professional levels.
Though they were unknowns from small schools such as Delta State, the University of Tennessee at Martin and John F. Kennedy College of Wahoo, Nebraska, at the time of the ’76 Olympics, the American team included a roster of players who would go on to become some of the most legendary figures in the history of basketball. From Pat Head, Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers, Lusia Harris, coach Billie Moore, and beyond—these women took on the world and proved everyone wrong.
“Lusia Harris is one of the most important basketball players in history, both for many accomplishments at Delta State and as the best player on the first U.S women’s Olympic basketball team. Like so many other women, she battled both racism and sexism to achieve remarkable things,” said Maraniss. “When I interviewed her for Inaugural Ballers, I was struck by both her humility and her pride. Now I feel both of those same emotions having the opportunity to come to Mississippi. I’m proud of this book and the chance to elevate the stories of pioneering Olympians, and humbled to do it in the places that meant the most to Lusia Harris.”
Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, Professor and Chair of the Division of Social Sciences and History said, “The 1976 U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team has an important place in the history of American sport and the fight for women’s equality. For those of us at Delta State, the fact that the remarkable Lusia Harris played a major role in this story is a source of pride and inspiration. Inaugural Ballers by Andrew Maraniss is a fitting history and tribute to that team of pioneers. We’re excited to have him in Cleveland and throughout the state as we work to ensure that the contributions of Lusia Harris will not be forgotten.”
Packed with black-and-white photos and thoroughly researched details about the beginnings of U.S. women’s basketball, Inaugural Ballers is the fascinating story of the women who paved the way for girls everywhere.”
Andrew is director of special projects at Vanderbilt University. He has appeared on several national media programs, including NPR’s All Things Considered and Only A Game, NBC’s Meet The Press, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann Show, ESPN Radio’s The Sporting Life, and the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show.
The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife Alison, and their two young children. Follow Andrew on Twitter @trublu24 and visit his website at andrewmaraniss.com.
This project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Mississippi Humanities Council.