Between 1915 to 1940, the Edmonton Commercial Graduates Basketball Club ("the Grads") went from a small-city, girl's high school team to world champs with an unparalleled winning record. Sports journalist Richard Brignall tells the story of this talented upstart team, whose sportsmanship and unwavering determination inspired generations of female athletes.
[Fry Reading Level - 4.6
Forever Champions:The Enduring Legacy of the Record-Setting Edmonton Gradsis part of the "Recordbooks Series". Richard Brignall, its author, co-authored another "Recordbooks" title, Small Town Glory. The series is designed to appeal to reluctant readers, with this title a quick and interesting read with its grade 4.8 reading level. However, what makes this title stand out in a growing genre of sports books for reluctant readers is that it will appeal to girls, rather than boys, since it's about a girls' high school team.
In 1914 two male teachers tossed a coin to see which of them would be stuck teaching physical education to high school girls. J. Percy Page lost the toss and decided to teach the girls a game he knew and loved - basketball. In their first year Page's team won every game and the Edmonton Grads were born.
Brignall's text is tightly written, keeping it easy to read, but also giving it a pace that propels the reader through the fascinating story of the Edmonton Grads. Success and fame didn't happen overnight, particularly in a period that dictated women should be homemakers and mothers, not athletes. Brignall weaves historical quotes throughout the text, bringing the team to life for readers with lots of insights into the games and the women who played them. Indeed, the Edmonton Grads played for 25 years, from 1915 - 1940, and during that time there were just 38 players. This story of women's fight for recognition as athletes is an important one for young readers - especially girls - to know. The book also marks an important point in Canadian history, when Edmonton, a small northern city, supported a world-famous female team fighting for the right to become part of the Olympics. It took, however, until 1976, for women's basketball to become an Olympic sport.
Forever Champions, and the story of this record setting team, has a place in every library. While basketball lovers will be drawn to the story, it is an interesting read for anyone who enjoys history or sports. Teachers will find the title useful in units on women's rights, especially sports.
Linda Aksomitis -"Resource Links" - Volume 13, Number 3, February 2008
From 1915 to 1940, the Edmonton Grads women's basketball team ruled the world of female athletes. In truth, there were few female athletes in the early years of this team's history, and those that made the effort had little support. That would change, and the Grads would be instrumental in making this change happen. With the flip of a coin, J. Percy Page became the coach of what started off as a girl's high school basketball team. Though they had little competition at home, over the years, women's teams began to form in eastern Canada and the United States. The Edmonton grads won nearly all of their games throughout the years including many championships. The Underwoood Trophy, donated for the World Championship, became theirs to defend.
This history of an amazing basketball team, who truly brought women's sports into the public interest is well written and interesting. Several black & white photographs punctuate the chapters showing the team and J. Percy Page from 1919 to 1936. Children will delight in the difference of uniform from then to present day, and those who remember the team will think fondly of the excitement these courageous individuals brought as women's sports came of age. Not only will it entertain and educate the age group for which it is intended, but it will also be enjoyed by those adults who are fascinated with the history of Edmonton, AB.
Elaine Fuhr, a retired teacher of elementary and middle school, lives in Alberta.
Canadian Review of Materials, Volume 14, No. 4