Character Interview with Danny
Q: Danny, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a sophomore at Oregrove high school. I like gymnastics. Actually, I'm pretty good at it. I'm probably one of the top three gymnasts on my team.
Q: What made you decide to pursue gymnastics?
I like learning tricks that no one else in my school could even dream of doing. It makes me feel pretty special. Plus, I'm too small to play any of the team sports.
Q: How much time do you spend practicing every day?
During the season, we train for probably three hours every day after school and three hours on Saturday mornings. During the off-season, I drive to a private club three days a week and train for 2 hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Q: How far do you hope gymnastic will take you?
I would really, really love to get a full-ride scholarship to college. That would make me feel like all my training really paid off and there was a reason I spent so much time doing it.
Q: What college do you want to attend?
A lot of universities dropped their men's gymnastics program over the last ten years so my choices are more limited. I think my top three choices would be Stanford, University of Michigan and then University of Minnesota.
Q: How do you feel about the football players and the pranks and bullying?
I hate the pranks. I hate the bullying. I don't hate most of the football players. I know most of them are okay guys and they are working hard like I'm working hard. But the captains are the worst. They think they are untouchable.
Q: Since you are a gymnast and Kurt is a football player, how did your friendship come about?
It's pretty weird that we are friends. Kurt came up to me out of the blue one day and asked me to teach him how to do a back handspring. When he came up to me that first time in algebra class, I thought he was going to beat the crap out of me because of a prank my teammates pulled on the football captains. But Kurt didn't care anything about that. He just wanted to learn how to do a handspring so he could throw one after scoring a touchdown in the end zone. When he told me his plan, I had to admit it sounded pretty cool so I totally offered to help teach him. That's how we first started to hang out.
Q: What is school life like for you?
I'm not that great in my classes and travelling the hallways sometimes feels like entering a video game where I have to avoid all these people trying to shove me out of the way for points. The gym is the one place I feel like I control my own life, where I feel confident and feel good about myself. I love the gym. Or, I did until those football captains came in and tried to ruin everything.
I'd tell them that they have to tell a teacher or a parent or both about what's going on. If you try to keep it a secret, try to take care of it all by yourself, it only grows and gets worse. Bullying isn't right. It shouldn't be accepted. Bullies get more power the more they can keep their terrorizing of you a secret. Don't play their game. Tell someone. If that adult won't help you. Tell another adult and another adult and another adult until someone does do something.
Danny - thank you for that wonderful and insightful interview. With bullying really being in the spotlight the last couple of years I hope that kids take your advice to heart. I know I will share it with my boys and will always be open for them to come to me with problems. I am a like a mama bear with her cubs when it comes to my boys :) And I hope more parents become proactive as well. It's not all on the teachers, it's on us as well, even if we see it and it's not our children being bullied.
About the Book:
The football field is a battlefield
There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on-and off-the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy-including the most innocent bystanders.
When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.
Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.
***My review of Leverage will come in the next week.***