Local Sportswriter Putt Riddle Publishes Book on Volleyball
By Alexandra Cannon
Groesbeck local Byron Putt Riddle has recently published a book that is sure to spark state-wide interest for players, coaches, parents and fans of the great sport of volleyball. Above the Net: 50 Years of the Best Volleyball in Texas provides a look at the winningest high school volleyball teams across the state, and includes insight from legendary coaches, high school athletes who went on to play at the collegiate level, and members of various boards and organizations dedicated to promoting volleyball in Texas.
Riddle has been a sports writer covering volleyball for close to 10 years and the volleyball accomplishments of his hometown high school team, the Amarillo Sandies, acted as a motivator for writing this book. Riddle has also written about the 12 winningest football teams of all time in Texas high school history in his book Friday’s Winners. Above the Net is very comprehensive; the stats and historical facts were researched thoroughly by Riddle.
“I mentioned to somebody at the UIL what I had in mind for this book and to help me out, he sent me 16 pages out of the state tournament program 2016,” Riddle said. “I started looking and I came up with 22 schools that had won at least 4 state championships, so I focused my research on this particular group.”
Having decided which teams he would write about, Riddle went all the way back to the beginning, when volleyball was added as a UIL sport in high schools across the state in 1967. He created questionnaires for coaches that met the criteria for his book and sent those out earlier this year.
“Information was slow coming in, so I decided it would be good to look at all the state tournament programs, and I made a request to the UIL to do that,” Riddle said. “Well, it turns out that had to be done through the Open Records Act and I had to go to the University of Texas at Austin that oversees the UIL to have the chance to look at those programs. They boxed em all up, and I spent two days in the building where the tower is, going through 50 state tournament programs and making copies of a lot of information, all to help fill in the gaps.”
In addition to using information gathered from his research, Riddle found that many coaches offered contact information for former players that they considered highly talented, and sometimes mentioned a parent or fan that was special to the team, which rounds out his book well, balancing the history and facts with quotes from those involved in the sport through various roles.
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