KateJaxESPN writer Kate Fagan leaves it all on the court in her memoir.

Kate Fagan is a respected national columnist and writer for espnW, ESPN.com and ESPN: The Magazine.  Her writing style is like a soft summer breeze, allowing the reader to glide through her articles and not get bogged down by exceedingly verbose paragraphs. It’s refreshing. So, I expected much of the same when I cracked open her latest effort—a revealing memoir called, The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians.

I’m happy to say it did not disappoint. The memoir starts fresh, right in the thick of things, right in the middle of the action. Fagan admittedly does this on purpose. “I didn’t want to waste one minute of the reader’s time,” she says. “I would rather have people finish the book and want to know more, as opposed to someone being halfway through the book and wishing I would hurry up and tell the story already.”

Before the end of chapter one, you already know what it’s like to be in Fagan’s shoes—stepping onto the court of a Division I basketball game during the height of March Madness, when the pressure is thick and suffocating, only to suddenly realize that you’re as gay as gay can be when the ball is tipped up into the air.

“I always did my best thinking on the basketball court,” Fagan confesses, “usually by myself and usually late at night, so it actually didn’t surprise me that I was on the court when I finally said those words—I’m gay—to myself.”

Candid scenes such as this one are why The Reappearing Act works so well. Fagan continuously manages to lure you in with her unbridled honesty and adorable naivety as a bright-eyed college student athlete struggling with her sexuality and the need to fit in with her teammates. The book reads much like a conversation you have with someone who is telling you a captivating coming out story over a couple of beers at a cozy little pub. It’s a heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale all at once.

Aside from the whole born-again Christians aspect and being a Division I basketball player, Fagan’s story is a familiar one. College is a confounding time for all. There’s that familiar longing to break free but, at the same time, the fear of standing out and being different from your peers.

“Every writer hopes the story they tell has universal themes,” she says. “And I hope that readers connect with the book and learn something about themselves along the way—about their own insecurities and fears, about who they really are and how they can live authentically and be true to themselves.”

Perhaps most importantly, The Reappearing Act also exposes a shameful homophobic culture that still thrives within women’s college basketball—10 years after Fagan’s own experience. “I want this book to offer people a clear picture of what that fear and closeting does to young people struggling with who they are. I want them to feel compelled to step forward and share their own stories, share who they really are, so we can start breaking down the walls that exist.”

Chances are, you won’t be able to meet Fagan for a beer at a pub and listen to her coming out story any time soon. But, take my word for it; reading The Reappearing Act is the next best thing.

Get it on Apple Books