Culture is defined in the dictionary as the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners or scholarly pursuits.
Fulfilling a lifelong dream of writing a book, John Torrey of Denison is the author of "More Than The Game," a fictional account of short stories that entail the thrill of building relationships for a winning culture based on Torrey’s real-life experiences with those who he has come in contact with.
"When you turn on ESPN, you hear a lot of coaches from across the country talking about how they’re wanting to change the culture in their programs. That’s what the book is about. Culture is not what you do. It’s how you do it and why you do it," commented Torrey.
"It can be the language you use as a team. It can be the common core values that really define your week. The culture is building relationships of other people through core values and speaking a common language so that we’re all on the same page," he added.
Torrey said that creating characters took some time in developing stories from start to finish.
"When I started writing, I took a University of Iowa writer’s workshop class because I’ve never created characters before," Torrey stated.
According to Torrey, all of the chapters in the book are dedicated to somebody he knows who has shared advice with him.
"One of the best experiences from the book was reconnecting with my seventh-grade football coach. It’s been 25 years since I played seventh-grade football and a lot has changed in the game in 25 years," Torrey said.
"So like I said, I took the writer’s workshop course so that I could create characters, get the story the way it needed to be, and then I just strung them altogether under the theme of sharpening the axe. It’s been neat to see it evolve into a finished product," Torrey noted.
Feedback has been tremendous, according to Torrey.
"Getting feedback was really encouraging to me as a developing writer. It really fueled me to keep going," said Torrey, who received powerful feedback from a lot of the people who he dedicated chapters to in the book.
Four pages near the end of the book include those life-changing people for Torrey.
"It was awesome to get the book in their hands and say thank you for the impact that they made on me. The whole process took about two months to get a manuscript together," Torrey said.
During the writing process, Torrey’s goal was to write one page a day or one hour, whatever came first.
With three small children at home, Torrey found himself a lot of the time writing late at night after they went to bed.
"There were a lot of sleepless nights, but I really committed myself to writing for one hour a night. In the middle of February, though, nobody was kocking on my door to see if I was actually writing."
"It was something I just had to commit to. If you put your mind to it, you can do big things in small chunks over a sustained amount of time," Torrey said.
About the author
Torrey, 37, is currently in his sixth year as a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Denison Middle School.
He serves as an assistant coach for the Denison-Schleswig football and wrestling teams and coaches the middle school wrestlers.
John’s wife, Rachel, is a nurse at the St. Anthony Clinic in Denison.
John and Rachel have three children, including two girls: Scarlet, 7, and Aven, 3, and one boy: Maddux, 1.
Torrey will have a book signing on Tuesday, November 13, at the Norelius Library in Denison from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
"I will be doing a book signing and giving a short presentation telling those in attendance more about Monarch football and the culture I’ve created in the book," Torrey said.
"Really, I just want to encourage people, because if I have stories, so do other people. I’m in no way a Rhodes scholar, so if I can write a book with a little bit of discipline and a little bit of time, I want to encourage others to write their stories."
"I want to make it easier for others than it was for myself," Torrey said.