Unlike the stories of the most visible Division I college athletes, Bushwick resident Amanda Ottaway’s story has more in common with those of the 80 percent of college athletes who are never seen on TV.
In her forthcoming book “The Rebounders,” Ottaway follows the college career of an average NCAA Division I women’s basketball player in the 21st century, beginning with the recruiting process when Ottaway is an eager, naive teenager and ending when she’s a more contemplative 20-something alumna. “This book is mostly memoir, though I have researched and fact checked it and confirmed it with others whenever I could,” she writes.
Ottaway’s story, along with the journeys of her dynamic Wildcat teammates at Davidson College in North Carolina, covers in engaging detail the life of a mid-major athlete: recruitment, the preseason, body image and eating disorders, schoolwork, family relationships, practice, love life, team travel, game day, injuries, drug and alcohol use, coaching changes and what comes after the very last game.
In addition to the everyday issues of being a student athlete, “The Rebounders” also covers the objectification of female athletes, race, sexuality and self-expression.
Most college athletes, famous or not, play hard, get hurt, fail and triumph together in a profound love of their sport and one another, and then their careers end and they figure out how to move on.
From concussions and minor injuries to classrooms, parties and relationships, Ottaway understands the experience of a Division I women’s basketball player firsthand. “The Rebounders” is, at its core, a feminist coming-of-age story, an exploration of what it means to be a young woman who loves a sport and is on a course of self-discovery through that medium.
Ottaway is a journalist in New York City. She attended Davidson College on a full athletic scholarship and majored in English. Her work has appeared in The Nation, The Washington Post and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among other periodicals. She is an International Women’s Media Foundation reporting fellow and a 2017-2018 Girls Write Now mentor. She is currently the Brooklyn Courts reporter, covering the Eastern District of New York, for Courthouse News Service.