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An excerpt from'Teamwork'

Coach says we are the sorriest bunch of lazy-ass motherflippers he’s ever seen in shoulder pads. If we don’t start acting like we want to win, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Coach says we must be a team—twenty-six boys, all on the same page. Coach says we have to execute. If every one of us would just execute, there’s no reason on the gol-dang planet every play shouldn’t go for a touchdown. But no. We don’t execute. Not us.

It’s halftime at the Declo game. We are in the locker room. We are five points down.

He says, “Maybe some of you guys don’t need to be out there anymore.” He says, “Maybe some of you prima donnas need some time on the bench.” He says, “Try me. Just try me.” Red in the face, he waves his arms around like he’s being attacked by bees. He says, “You gotta get out there and fuck-dang hit somebody!”

He throws his clipboard against the wall and stomps out.

A little bit about Shawn Vestal


Shawn Vestal is the author of the novel Daredevils, published in spring 2016 by Penguin Press. Daredevils was named the winner of the Washington State Book Award. It was published in the U.K. by One/Pushkin Press, as well as in France, (titled Goodbye, Loretta, by Albin Michel); and in Germany, (titled Loretta, by Kein & Aber).

Vestal’s debut collection of short stories, Godforsaken Idaho, published by Little A/New Harvest in April 2013, was named the winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, which honors a debut book that “represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” He also published A.K.A. Charles Abbott, a short memoir, as a Kindle Single in 2013.

Vestal’s short stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney’s, Ecotone, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Zyzzyva, Cutbank, Florida Review and other journals. His story “Teamwork” was published in The Sewanee Review in its Summer 2019 issue. It was later named the winner of the magazine’s Andrew Lytle Prize, honoring the best fiction published in 2019. He has published journalism and essays in The Guardian, The New Yorker web site, and other venues.

He lives in Spokane, Washington, where he is a columnist at The Spokesman-Review newspaper, and a member of the faculty in the creative writing program at Eastern Washington University.

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