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Sun-Times sports columnist to speak Friday

Craig Chamberlain, Education Editor
(217) 333-2894;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Rick Telander, a Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist and the author of the recently published "String Music," a novel about a young basketball fan and the basketball star who befriends him, will speak at 12:30 p.m. Friday (Oct. 4) at the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

Telander’s talk, in Illini Rooms A and B, will be the keynote for the annual conference of the Illinois State High School Press Association. The talk is open to the public and free of charge; Telander also will sign copies of "String Music" (Cricket Books).

Telander says that one reason he wrote the novel, and chose to speak at the conference, is because he wants to encourage young people to read and write more.

The novel, written for middle-school-age readers, tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Robbie who is always picked last for basketball and often feels like a nobody. He dreams of being like his idol, Jasper Jasmine, the world’s greatest basketball player, and one day runs off and sneaks into a game to see Jasmine play. Robbie meets the star, modeled on Michael Jordan, and they become friends, each learning lessons from the other.

Telander has been with the Sun-Times since 1995, before then working as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He got his start in sports writing after his 1971 graduation from Northwestern University, where he played defensive back, by writing about his training-camp experiences with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has won numerous honors, including the Sports Columnist of the Year award from the Illinois Associated Press.

Among Telander’s other books are "Heaven is a Playground," about basketball in Brooklyn; "The Hundred Yard Lie," about corruption in college football; and "In the Year of the Bull," about the glory days of the Chicago Bulls. "String Music" is his first novel.