Hey, Coach!

Written by Linda Ashman. Illustrated by Kim Smith.
Sterling Publishing, 2016. 978-1454916079

Reviews & Honors:

Ontario Library Association 2016 Best Bets

“If you have ever coached a youth sports team, you will instantly connect with Hey, Coach!” Kid Lit Reviews

“Ashman and Smith perfectly capture the chaos and feeling of herding cats that is coaching beginner sports for little kids. This book is both humorous and sweet. An absolute delight to read.” Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust

“A fabulous gift for any youth coach!” The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog

A few sample illustrations . . .

Illustrations copyright 2016 by Kim Smith. Sterling Publishing.

About this Story

I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up, and for most of my life had no interest in sports. So, naturally, my one and only child would turn out to be sports-obsessed. By the time Jackson turned five, I realized that if I wanted to keep up with the conversations between my son and husband (who apparently had been suppressing his own sports obsession around me for many years), I had a lot of catching up to do.

So, through many years of watching Jackson’s soccer, basketball and baseball games, plus daily discussions of all things sports-related, I learned some stuff. And through observing the actions of many coaches—including Jack—I developed a real appreciation for the work they do, and a sense of what makes someone a good coach, especially of young kids. Two essential qualities: (1) patience and (2) a sense of humor.

Young kids do funny things. They’re easily distracted. They don’t know the rules. They forget stuff. In writing Hey, Coach!, I wanted to convey some of the humor of those early athletic pursuits and give a shout-out to the coaches who volunteer their time to teach young players.

The story is told through the kids’ own voices, using speech bubbles only—no narration at all. The first version I submitted—which covered multiple sports—was turned down by several editors. One of them, Meredith Mundy at Sterling, wrote:

I showed this to our editorial director, and she loved the idea. We both feel, however, that the text feels like too much of a mish-mosh in its focus on so many sports simultaneously.  

So I followed Meredith’s suggestion and revised it, focusing on soccer only. And she was right. The story worked much better with a single-sport focus, and allowed me to follow one young team as they progressed through their first season. Happily, Meredith acquired it and brought Kim Smith on board to illustrate. As with Over the River & Through the Wood, Kim’s characters and scenes are full of color, energy and humor. Here’s a preview:

Extras—For Writers:

This manuscript began as a collection of vignettes showing a variety of team sports. When a couple of editors suggested it might work better if focused on a single sport (see more below), I revised it. Here’s the before and after:

Hey, Coach! Multi-Sport Version

Hey Coach! Soccer-Only Submission