The Underdogs

By: Mike Lupica, Sports Fiction

Summary of The Underdogs

The book the Underdogs, by Mike Lupica, is about a twelve-year old boy named Will Tyler with blazing speed and is a great football player. He is a boy who loves the sport of football more than anything else, and when he finds out that his small hometown of Forbes, Pennsylvania cannot afford equipment for the upcoming football for his team, he does just about everything to try to save his and his friend’s season.


First, Will tries to come up with ways of fundraising to help come up with the money, but nothing seems good enough to come up with the lofty $10,000 cost. Even Will’s dad Joe Tyler does not have much hope for Will in his friends. But suddenly Will comes up with a “Hail Mary” plan. Will writes a long heart-felt letter to New Balance’s owner Mr. Rob DeMartini explaining how he and his friends won’t be able to play football because of financial issues and if he would be so kind to sponsor his team. This letter works and it appear Will’s season has been saved until they find that the sign up sheet only has ten names, one less then what fields a football team and are still in need of a coach. Will then goes out and pretty much tries to recruit just anybody he can and tries to get them to go out for football, but finds out he has no takers, until he goes up to Shea Field to get a workout in and sees a person booming punts and kicks over fifty yards. It turns out to be a girl. Her name is Hannah Grayson and she interested in playing football. At first, even Will was against her joining the team but as he continually saw what she was able to do he changed his mind and tried to get everyone else on board, which he was eventually was able to do. He even got his dad Joe Tyler to coach the team and was able to get Toby Keenan back out, who was twice the size of Will and almost as fast. Things were looking good for the Bulldogs.


So after all of this, the season finally gets started, but not quite like the way Will wants it to. They get beaten fairly easily in their first game, and lose their second game to a cocky Castle Rock team that beat them the year before in the league championship game, in a surprisingly close game. But the third game they get back on track with win, followed with a win in the fourth game, and then the fifth game. They eventually worked their record back up to 5-2 and had to win one more game to get into the league championship game against Castle Rock. But the challenges were not done for Will and the Bulldogs. His best friend Tim LeBlanc moves away to Arizona after his dad got a job there. Tim was one of their better players and they were now down to eleven players. And then during the very last play of their next game, the game to get into the league championship their QB got hurt on the last play of the game, the play that won them the game. So they then play Castle Rock for all the marbles and surprise everybody beating them 22-16 because of stellar performances from Will, Toby, and even Hannah.


So in summary, Will and his friends were the underdogs the whole book. They were underdogs to try to figure out a way to have the season. They were underdogs to play through a whole season with eleven people and they were underdogs in their very last game against Castle Rock, but they overcame the odds and had the season of a lifetime.

Essential Questions

What makes American Literature American?

This book is American many ways. First, this book is about without a doubt America’s most popular sport, football. Secondly, it has that classical underdog story behind it that so many Americans love to hear about and read. It also shows how the bond between teammates and family members that is very similar to the average American sports team or family. An example is Will’s relationship with his best friend Tim LeBlanc. Those two, bond through the sport of football like so many other American kids do. Another example is Will’s relationship with his father Joe Tyler, they bond through football in many ways. Whether it is Joe coaching his son the field or whether it is them watching football on the TV together, very similar to other father-son relationships in America.

How does American Literature shape or reflect society?

This story shapes society in many ways. First of all, sports are a huge part of our society, especially football, which is what this story is about. Secondly, it reflects the hard-working and determined part of our society. This story shows if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen know matter what obstacle or obstacles lie ahead of you. Will Tyler showed this by first of all doing multiple different things to even get his twelve year-old football team to even have a season, and then by putting in hard work to make himself and his teammates better, and eventually winning the league championship. A lot of people in our society want stuff for them to happen but are not willing to do what it takes to make it happen and that is what Will Tyler and his teammates did.

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