A coming-of-age story involving basketball and dreams.
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There seem to be four inevitable things about Madison, South Dakota: The winters are cold, the summers are hot, the wind never ceases, and the Bulldogs always field a losing basketball team. Lance Masterson, who is known to his peers by the nickname of Bambi, can't do anything about the weather, but he decides he can do something about the basketball program. Though only an eighth grader, he drafts a document dubbed The Bulldog Compact in which the signers pledge to give do everything they can to win the state basketball championship. The mission they chose to accept is to train their bodies, minds, and spirits to make a heroic attempt at conquering the summit of South Dakota basketball. Bambi and his friends come of age as they find it is easier to sign on the dotted line than to pour out the blood, sweat, and tears needed to reach their goal. They discover that not only do they have to overcome the bigger schools of the class A ranks but also have to battle themselves and the naysayers of their own community in order to hang onto their dream.
Although Bambi was in a quiet, reflective mood, the rest of the bubblegummers, as the waitress referred to them, were in a constant state of motion, laughing and yelling. The uproar they produced was enough to strain the sanity of all but the strongest or deafest of the adult generation. Bambi didnít usually notice the volume because he was a participant and not an observer. Tonight things were different, and the noise was getting on his nerves. After scribbling down Corkyís order, the waitress turned to Bambi. "Just a root beer, please," he mumbled.
As the weary lady returned to the kitchen, Corky studied his companion. Finally he blurted out, "Bambi, whatís the matter with you? You hardly said a word all the way down here, and now you donít order anything to eat. Thatís just not like you at all. Is there somethiní bugginí ya?"
Bambi made a gesture of uncertainty with his hands and heaved a loud sigh. "Yeah, there is. Itís that stupid basketball game. Iím getting sick and tired of losing so much."
"But you canít do anything about that. Itís not your fault that the Madison Choke Artists staged another classic come-from-ahead-defeat."
"I know, but it still bugs the snot out of me. Did you notice how tired those guys were in the fourth quarter? They arenít in very good shape at all. Iíve heard that some of them are smoking and drinking. I really think that some donít give a rip about the team."
"Holy hangnail, Bambi. You canít let that get you down. Wait until we get into high school; then weíll show them how itís done."
"Yeah, maybe." Suddenly Bambiís face lit up. "Yeah! Yeah!" he almost shouted the last one. "Thatís it! Iíve got it!"
"I hope itís not contagious."
"Iíve got an idea of something I can do, noÖthat we can do Ė now. A team needs to stick together, right?" Bambi didnít even wait for Corky to reply. "I think itís time we started preparing for our high school careers right now."