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 Dang
Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, and the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications.