“We thought, how cool would it be to put together a book of not necessarily the greats…but a book specifically about game changers,” Ariana Broerman said.
Broerman is a 1998 graduate of Beavercreek High School and her husband grew up in Fredericktown, Ohio. The couple graduated in 2003 from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
Both were influenced by sports as youngsters. Ariana was glued to the Olympics and Matthew followed the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Browns.
Their book of 50 stories and illustrations introduces readers to the people who have changed sports, society and the world.
As artists, Broerman said, they wanted to pay tribute to the athletes in a “cool and unique way” and commissioned artists from around the world to create a stylized portrait to accompany each story.
One of Broerman’s favorite stories from the book is about Doug Allison, a catcher for the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
Allison played baseball before gloves were part of the game and were considered unmanly. Catchers and first basemen suffered broken bones and dislocated joints during play.
He also positioned himself directly behind the batter at a time when most catchers stood 25-feet away. The proximity made his job more dangerous.
On June 28, 1870 he took the field with a glove to protect his hand. He was ridiculed by the fans but that game led to the leather mitt becoming a standard piece of equipment.
A story about Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, is a lesson in bravery.
Told a woman wasn’t capable of running 26.2 miles, Switzer, an avid runner, began training for the 1967 marathon.
At mile four of the race an official stormed the course, grabbed at her bib and shouted, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!”
Though terrified, Switzer kept running as she was trailed by reporters who wanted to know when she would quit. Determined to prove them wrong, Switzer finished in 4 hours, 20 minutes. Her accomplishment still has an impact today.
“When I go the Boston Marathon now, I have wet shoulders — women fall into my arms crying,” she said. “They’re weeping for joy because running has changed their lives. They feel they can do anything.”
The Broermans discovered the personal stories behind their subjects.
Readers will learn about Paul Brown’s revolutionary role in football; how Alice Coachman, the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, was treated when she returned home; and how Chuck Taylor’s name became part of the best-selling sneaker of all time.
Broerman said she and her husband want the “moments in history” from the book to be accessible to people of all ages.
She loves hearing that parents are reading a story each night to their kids, and that adults can’t put it down.
“I hope people learn something and enjoy the new perspective that we’re bringing to some of the more familiar stories,” she said. “The heart of the whole book is their innovation and the creativity they brought to their sport.”
“They Changed the Game” can be ordered at theychanged.com or purchased at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum. The hardcover book is $40.