Running to Glory

Running to Glory

An Unlikely Team, a Challenging Season, and Chasing the American Dream

Sam McManis


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The runners from Eisenhower High School have every justification to fail. They’re from low income families, many of whom are migrant workers. With little time to devote to their passion, they give everything they have to their quest for the Washington State High School Cross Country Championship.

Running to Glory is a celebration of grit, perseverance, and the American Dream. It follows the cross country team from Eisenhower High in Yakima, Washington, through a tumultuous and challenging season with excitement, suspense and pathos. Despite enormous economic disadvantages, the Eisenhower runners compete with affluent schools in the Seattle-Tacoma area, where parent involvement is strong and funds are readily available.

Their coach Phil English knows how his runners feel. He grew up poor in rural Ireland in the 1960s during The Troubles and emigrated to the U.S. for a college track scholarship. Over 37 years coaching in Yakima, Coach English won 11 state titles, and sent more than 100 kids to college with scholarships for running.

Author Sam McManis crafts a compelling narrative, which follows the team from summer workouts in the blistering sun to the state championship meet in the bitter cold. Readers will discover how these young men and women overcome their environment or succumb to it—on the course and in the classroom.


Sam McManis:
Sam McManis is a former columnist and feature writer for the Sacramento Bee. He is a four-time winner of the Society of Features Journalism awards and three-time Best of the West honoree. He also has been a staff writer and editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Times. His profiles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. He is the author of a book of travel essays, Crossing California: A Cultural Topography of a State of Wonder and Weirdness. He lives in Washington state.