The extraordinary story of the small Vermont town that has likely produced more Olympians per capita than any other place in the country—and whose citizens provide a model for achieving excellence while leading a well-rounded life.
Norwich, a charming Vermont town of roughly three thousand residents, has sent an athlete to almost every Winter Olympics for the past thirty years—and three times that athlete has returned with a medal.
How does Norwich do it? To answer this question, New York Times reporter Karen Crouse moved to Vermont, immersing herself in the lives of Norwich Olympians past and present. There, amidst the organic farms and clapboard colonial buildings, she discovered a culture that’s the opposite of the hypercompetitive schoolyard of today’s tiger moms and eagle dads. In Norwich, kids aren’t cut from teams. They don’t specialize in a single sport, and they even root for their rivals. What’s more, their hands-off parents encourage them to simply enjoy themselves. Making it to the Olympics is seen not as the pinnacle of an athlete’s career but as a fun stop on the way to achieving other, longer-lasting dreams. Norwich, Crouse realized, wasn’t just raising better athletes than the rest of America; it was raising happier, healthier kids.
Full of inspiring stories of Olympians who excelled on and off the sports field—and had a blast doing so—Norwich is the book for every parent who wants to raise kids to be levelheaded, fulfilled, and successful.
About the Author
Karen Crouse is an award-winning sportswriter who has been on the staff of The New York Times since 2005. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Norwich is her first book.
“With her small but timely book, Crouse has given parents of young athletes a great gift — a glimpse at another way to raise accomplished and joyous competitors.”
“Splendid.... Crouse’s message applies beyond a particular town or state.”
“Crouse has written a powerfully inspiring and thought-provoking book filled with wisdom and counterintuitive insights. I couldn’t put it down. Norwich is a refreshing and much-needed intervention that puts joy at the center of the parenting conversation.”
— Amy Chua, bestselling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package
“Hold this piece of carbon in your hands, parents, as it shines like a diamond, revealing the path to raise happy, resilient children.”
“Both a brilliant book and a needed blueprint. Sports parents and aspiring young athletes can now, through this charming and revelatory story, follow the best and healthiest example. Crouse has performed the neat feat of providing both a terrific piece of reportage, and a public service.”
— Sally Jenkins, bestselling author of The Real All Americans
“The tremendous focus and sacrifice it takes to become an Olympian often leads to imbalance in life. The village of Norwich has shown that a strong community can foster love of sport and competitive success without sacrificing balance.”
— Michael Phelps, 28-time Olympic medalist
“A small gem of a book—a quiet Jeremiad about what's gone wrong in this country with the way we raise athletes into adulthood and a meditation on how we might begin to repair that broken process.”
— Julie Checkoway, bestselling author of The Three-Year Swim Club
“The lessons of Norwich are inspiring and compelling.”
“Crouse proves that there really is a town in which all the kids are above average—in this case, in a range of Olympic winter sports. Be careful Norwich. After reading this, the rest of the country will be headed your way!”
— Beth Kobliner, bestselling author of Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not)
“Crouse, a Times sportswriter disillusioned by drug-enhanced results and joyless competitions, stumbled on Norwich in the midst of her travels with more or less the same stunned enthusiasm with which Ronald Colman, in the movie “Lost Horizon,” stumbles on Shangri-La.”
— Adam Gopnik
“Brimming with community-building ideas that transcend sports, this book challenges the current overextended, high-pressure world of youth athletics and provides the tools to help foster a positive, hometown-based alternative. Highly recommended.”
“By the time readers finish Crouse’s account, they may shift from wondering how Norwich does it to asking why everybody doesn’t do it this way.”
“Crouse’s common-sense findings... are refreshing. Her book is a reminder that in an age that stresses winning at all costs, the true champions of the Olympic world are those who transition into lives as happy and productive adults. An inspiring story of a unique town.”
“Short and sweet, this important book highlights what’s wrong with youth sports by focusing on a community that gets it right.... Charming.”
“Learning the backstory of each athlete is fascinating, as is Crouse’s depiction of how the Olympics have changed dramatically over the course of her career. The book concludes with thoughts on creating Norwich’s culture around the globe, making it a valuable read for parents, coaches, and teachers everywhere.”