Eight state championships, a 79-game winning streak, an .825 winning percentage, and over 300 career wins. Amazingly, these aren’t the most important things Coach Roger Barta has brought to the football program at Smith Center High School in Smith Center, Kan. His philosophy – of always putting forth your best effort, striving to improve every day, and trusting and loving your teammates – has not only built a solid high school football program, but has also turned hundreds of young boys into men with solid values who are ready to contribute to society upon graduation.
Join the state of Kansas in reading Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape, which has been selected as the 2012 Kansas Reads book. Drape, a Kansas City native, currently writes for The New York Times and first heard of the Smith Center football program when he was asked to write a story about the amazing 72 points the Redmen put up on Plainville in the 1st quarter of their playoff game back in 2007. After experiencing Smith Center, Roger Barta, and the Smith Center football program, he felt a book should be written to give voice to the relationship between the small Kansas town, its football team, and the coach who has manned the sidelines there for 30 years.
Although Our Boys focuses on the Smith Center Redmen football program, and more specifically their 2008 season, it’s not just a sports book. It’s a book about the special relationship between Coach Barta, his players, and the people of Smith Center. It’s a book about team building, camaraderie, coming of age, family, small-town values, love, and trust. It’s a book that will make any Kansan proud of their Midwest roots. I encourage everyone to read Our Boys and attend library programs focusing on Smith Center football, sports, team building, and inspirational stories.
On Feb. 29 from 7-8, we host a book talk that will offer a chance to learn more about the book and discuss some of the themes, which run throughout its pages. On March 4 from 2-3pm, the library welcomes Coach Barta and his son, Brooks Barta, who is currently the head football coach at Holton and a former Smith Center alum. They will talk about the philosophies, values, and expectations that have become synonymous with Smith Center football for the past 30 years.
Throughout the month of February we will also be showing a Team Spirit Film Series, which will feature true, inspirational sports movies. Again, as with Our Boys, these are sports movies but you don’t need to be a sports fan to enjoy them. They are inspirational stories that will appeal to anyone. Showtime is at 6:30pm. Here is the playlist:
Feb. 17 – Hoosiers – tells the story of a small town Indiana high school basketball team that makes an improbable run to the state championship
Feb. 24 – Remember the Titans – takes place during the 1960s and tells the story of how a Virginia high school football team comes together despite the tension caused by integration at their high school and on the team