"Free Agent"
by Timothy Tocher

From Long Shot

After her first day at a new school, Laurie Bird Preston faces a barrage of questions from her grandmother and in the meantime tries to ask her father an important question about her friend, Howard.

 
       

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Characters in Order of Appearance
Narrator
Grandma
Laurie
Coach Preston
Howard


Narrator: For supper the Thanksgiving turkey was back (in what Laurie hoped was its final appearance) in a steaming soup. Laurie tried to use her best table manners, but she found it hard to eat when her grandmother kept peppering her with questions.

Grandma: What did you learn in school today?

Narrator: she began. Laurie had been so rattled about being in a new school that she had spent most of the day thinking of her friend, Christy, and of her life in her hometown of Bradley. The class might have been studying Chinese for all Laurie could remember.

Laurie: Oh, you know, the usual.

Narrator: Laurie answered.

Grandma: How could it be usual when it was your first day?

Narrator: Grandma wondered.

Grandma: Do they still teach home economics in the schools?

Narrator: Coach Preston laughed.

Coach Preston: Those days are gone, Mom. They teach life skills to both boys and girls, but not in fifth grade.

Grandma: Well, I think it's high time they got back to teaching it. When I was Laurie's age, I knew how to sew and bake. I've used those skills all my life.

Laurie: But could you dribble behind your back?

Narrator: Laurie couldn't resist asking.

Grandma: Don't be fresh, Laurie.

Narrator: Grandma snapped.

Grandma: You spend too much time in gyms. That's why you dress and act like a boy. When you get older, how are you going to attract a boyfriend?

Laurie: If I want a boyfriend,

Narrator: Laurie retorted,

Laurie: I'll find one who thinks like I do: that girls can do anything boys can do.

Narrator: Grandma opened her mouth to respond, but Coach Preston broke in.

Coach Preston: Laurie's got a boyfriend already, Mom. First day in the school, too.

Narrator: he teased.

Coach Preston: What's his name again?

Laurie: Howard is NOT my boyfriend, Dad. He's just a kid I know.

Narrator: She had been about to ask if Howard could manage the team. But now she thought if she did, her father would be convinced Howard was her boyfriend. Maybe she'd wait until tomorrow morning to ask. The doorbell rang just as Grandma was bringing a freshly baked apple pie to the table. When Laurie opened the door, there stood Howard, his laptop tucked under his arm.

Howard: Hi, Laurie, I've got some stats I wanted to show your dad. I'm going to help him make this team something special!

Narrator: Howard said enthusiastically.

Grandma: Laurie, who's your friend?

Narrator: came Grandma's voice.

Grandma: Ask him in for some pie.

Coach Preston: This must be Howard.

Narrator: said Coach Preston, who had followed Laurie to the door. He stuck out his hand. Howard shook hands and said,

Howard: Coach, you won't be sorry you gave me the job. Take a look at some of the statistical breakdowns I can do for you.

Narrator: Coach Preston looked at Laurie, hoping for some explanation of what Howard was talking about. But Howard didn't notice the coach's confusion. He strode into the kitchen and set his laptop on the table. Coach Preston followed and looked over Howard's shoulder.

Howard: I can chart free throws and keep stats for each and every player

Narrator: Howard explained.

Howard: That way you'll know who you'll want handling the ball at crunch time. I can't imagine anyone being a better shooter than Laurie, but the other teams will possibly try not to foul her--

Laurie: Uh, Dad,

Narrator: Laurie interrupted,

Laurie: I was supposed to ask you if Howard could manage the team, but I never got around to it.

Coach Preston: Oh, a manager, sure.

Narrator: Coach Preston smiled.

Coach Preston: The job is yours, son, but it involves filling water bottles and passing out towels. I'll take care of the coaching.

Narrator: Howard looked as if he might protest, but Grandma had cut him a huge wedge of apple pie, and he was soon too busy eating to worry about statistics.

 

© 2001 by Timothy Tocher. Excerpted and adapted from Long Shot, published by Meadowbrook Press. This Classroom Theater version of "Free Agent" is © 2002 by Meadowbrook Press.

Permission is given for individual school classes to perform this play and to make as many copies of the play as are needed for the students' use. All other reproduction and performance is prohibited under penalty of law.

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