Every four years, the summer Olympic games thrill global audiences with superior physical competition while athletes strike unparalleled inspiration with their personal stories. And with the release of “Ring Force,” NBC Olympics story editor and senior producer Brian Brown weaves a gold medal story for young readers that makes the thrill of the games come alive with the message that big dreams can come true through hard work.
The book follows the personal journey of Henry Garcia. Garcia is just like any other kid growing up in Brooklyn – but his dreams of becoming a gold medal track and field Olympian eventually lead him to join an elite team of athletes that, unified by their love of sports, succeed in their mission of making the world a better place.
“I’ve always wanted to bring Olympic stories to kids in a way that can impact them beyond the run of the games,” says Brown, who has helped produce NBC Olympics coverage since the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. “Creating a story with elements like the importance of working hard to succeed, being part of a team, living a certain spirit of excellence and opening yourself up to the larger world was important to me. The games are so much more than just victory – it’s about sportsmanship and doing your best.”
Garcia, a character whose incredible running speed is nurtured by his loving father, was actually inspired by outstanding real-life Latino athletes and Olympians, says Brown. Athletes like Alberto Manzano, a legendary Cuban pole jumper who set records in the ’90s and John Orozco, a Bronx-bred gymnast and favorite to win in London, are just two of the athletes whom Brown admires as exemplary role models for children.
“It’s a great thing to identify with an athlete’s story or effort to forge a deeper connection that you can use as a model in your life for physical activity and motivation,” explains Brown. “These are the stories that can really inspire a child to model their character development.”
Brown, who has two teens of his own – whom he credits for helping him shape the characters of the young adult novel – hopes that children across America will find encouragement through the character of Henry Garcia. After all, says Brown, there’s a bit of Henry Garcia – a child with big dreams and endless ambition – in all of us.
“Ring Force” will be released in stores and online via eBook on July 17, 2012. NBC Publishing and NBC Latino are both divisions of NBC Universal.