For John Urschel, what began as an insatiable appetite for puzzles as a child developed into mastery of the elegant systems and rules of mathematics. By the time he was thirteen, Urschel was auditing a college-level calculus course. But when he joined his high school football team, a new interest began to eclipse the thrill he felt in the classroom. Football challenged Urschel in an entirely different way, and he became addicted to the physical contact of the sport. After he accepted a scholarship to play at Penn State, his love of math was rekindled. As a Nittany Lion, he refused to sacrifice one passion for the other. Against the odds, Urschel found a way to manage his double life as a scholar and an athlete. While he was an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, he simultaneously pursued his PhD in mathematics at MIT.
Weaving together two separate narratives, Urschel relives for us the most pivotal moments of his bifurcated life. He explains why, after Penn State was sanctioned for the acts of former coach Jerry Sandusky, he declined offers from prestigious universities and refused to abandon his team. He describes his parents' different influences and their profound effect on him, and he opens up about the correlation between football and CTE and the risks he took for the game he loves. Equally at home discussing Georg Cantor's work on infinities and Bill Belichick's playbook, Urschel reveals how each challenge--whether on the field or in the classroom--has brought him closer to understanding the two different halves of his own life, and how reason and emotion, the mind and the body, are always working together. "So often, people want to divide the world into two," he observes. "Matter and energy. Wave and particle. Athlete and mathematician. Why can't something (or someone) be both?"
"How many other professional football players share John Urschel's obsession with the arcane formulas of vector calculus? With the authorial assistance of Louisa Thomas, Urschel recounts the unusual life course that made him simultaneously an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and a PhD candidate in mathematics at MIT. To explain this exceptional trajectory, Urschel revisits formative moments in his childhood: joining his mother at the kitchen table to complete sudoku puzzles; accompanying his father to the office, where he first sees an unforgettable photograph of his dad in a university football uniform. Readers then follow Urschel through the academic and athletic rigors that expose the sharp contrasts and surprising connections between the two passions that shape his life one taxing his brain with proofs and calculations, the other toughening his muscles with gridiron competition. The candid narrative conveys both the intellectual excitement of mathematically formulating the irregularities of an asteroid's orbit and the physical trauma of sustaining a concussion in blocking a blitzing linebacker. A piquantly improbable memoir.--Bryce Christensen Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Urschel, a former guard for the Baltimore Ravens, shares his lifelong attempts to reconcile math and football in his captivating memoir. Urschel recalls his childhood attraction to puzzles; they gave him a glimpse of a more logical and orderly world than the one in which he lived as the child of divorced parents. By middle school in Buffalo, N.Y., Urschel, bigger than many of his classmates, wanted to play football in order to fit in. While his lawyer mother encouraged him to develop his considerable intellectual abilities, his father, a surgeon, urged him to develop his football skills. In alternating chapters he recounts his pursuits in both: he enrolled at Penn State in 2010, where he played football and studied math. After graduating, he was drafted in 2014 by the Baltimore Ravens, with whom he played for three seasons; in 2016, he enrolled as a PhD candidate at MIT. Math, Urschel writes, "gives me a way of making sense of the world. It helps me see past the confusion of everyday life and glimpse the underlying structures of the universe." Urschel's brilliant memoir explores the challenges of making difficult choices and the rewards of following one's passions in life. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved