How A Black High School Basketball Coach Transformed A White, Mennonite Town: A Longreads Guest Pick By Chris Mahr

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Chris Mahr is the managing editor of Lost Lettermen, a college sports website and athlete database.

“Talk to any young sportswriter today and odds are that their introduction to both Sports Illustrated’s long-form journalism and renowned writer Gary Smith are one in the same: ‘Higher Education.’ Smith’s March 2001 masterpiece tells the tale of Perry Reese Jr., a black Catholic basketball coach at Hiland High in the predominantly Mennonite town of Berlin, Ohio. A man whose force-of-nature personality on and off the court transformed a town ‘whose beliefs had barely budged in 200 years’ and forced his players and neighbors to rethink their long-held tenets on race, religion and life.”

Higher Education

Gary Smith | Sports Illustrated | March 2001 | 35 minutes (8,619 words)

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Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, on the editorial team at WordPress.com, and is the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.
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