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12/15/20

Overcoming Adversity with Ivy Claire

This blog post is written by Ivy Claire, author of the newly released title, Epoca: The River of Sand. The Epoca series was created by Kobe Bryant and written by Ms. Claire. RIF believes in the power of story to comfort us, to strengthen us and to help us overcome adversity. That’s why every child deserves to own books and experience the opportunity that literacy provides. Ms. Claire shares how story – and sports- help us preserve and overcome adversity. We’re excited to showcase her voice here today and highlight what this book means to her.

When I started playing competitive sports, I imagined that, on court, everything would adhere to the rules. I imagined sports would be the opposite of the real world—the outside world—where things, you know, don’t follow a specific pattern. But after a year of competition, I realized that in sports, even with all those rules and regulations, boundaries and time limits, things rarely go as planned. Sure, there are rules to every game, but there’s no telling what is actually going to happen when the match gets underway.

You can train and train and train (believe me, you can kill it on the practice court), but when you get to competition, something - large or small - is sure to go wrong.

Are you sick? Are you mad? Did your shoelace break? Did you forget your best racquet? Did your coach have to skip the match? Did your opponent say something mean, or worse—did your opponent cheat? All these things happen. And in all of these possibilities is a chance for growth, which is something Kobe and I wanted to explore in our Epoca books.

Authors have long used the forum of sports to examine, investigate, or express certain anxieties or conflicts built into their narrative—in essence, telescoping all the world’s anxieties into one, so that the game, be it track, basketball, baseball, or gymnastics, comes to stand for something larger or darker than itself. In “Epoca: The River of Sand”, the main characters are being challenged on two fronts, on the field and off. They are plagued by concerns from the real world, worried about their families, friends, and self-worth. At the same time, on the track they are being challenged by opponents and teammates to excel and to prove themselves—prove their self-worth, stand up for their friends, and stand up to their families. In competition they wage a global battle against any and all of their anxieties.

So what better way might there be to overcome adversity than to start small, start with a more manageable arena: sports? If you can begin to control your emotions on the playing field, court, or gym, you’ve taken an essential first step to applying these lessons to larger, real world problems.

Kobe very strongly believed that being your best self on court meant striking the proper balance between love and fear. Love comes easy. It’s simple to love what you do, especially when you are doing it well. Fear is trickier, but also essential. Fear, in Kobe’s estimation, is as important an emotion as love. You cannot ignore that which you are afraid of. If you do, it will be your downfall. Instead, you must embrace it and accept it. Only then can you begin to overcome it.

We play games to make us stronger—we become mentally tough when we embrace our fears, when we figure out how to deal with a cheating opponent or other unfairness on the playing field. And when we have done that, we have learned about our strength. Then we can take this lesson—we can draw on it and apply it to whatever might come our way in the outside world.

This is what the kids in “Epoca: The River of Sand” are up against. Their real-world challenges are great but to meet them they must first overcome those they encounter in competition when nothing behaves according to the polite rules of sports. And that is how is should be.

We invented sports as a way to rein in the world’s uncertainty. But that doesn’t happen. There are too many factors at play. But in the end, sports teach us to manage the world’s uncertainty.

They give us the tools to overcome it, to vanquish it, and to emerge stronger.

EPOCA: THE RIVER OF SAND
Created by Kobe Bryant | Written by Ivy Claire
Granity Studios | December 15, 2020 | Hardcover | | 368 pages
ISBN: 978-1949520187
For support resources for this title, visit RIF’s Literacy Central at https://www.rif.org/literacy-central/book/river-sand-epoca-2 and explore the site for other titles by Ms. Claire.

ABOUT IVY CLAIRE
Ivy Claire is a former world ranked athlete and national and collegiate squash champion. She spent a decade competing internationally before turning full-time to writing. She holds a degree in classics and in a parallel life is a literary novelist. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

ABOUT GRANITY STUDIOS
Formed by NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, with Vanessa Bryant now as President, Granity Studios is a multi-media original content company Bryant founded to enable young athletes to maximize their full potential through creative storytelling. Kobe Bryant created the critically acclaimed Showtime distributed documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” the 2018 Academy Award-winning animated short “Dear Basketball,” the Sports Emmy and Annie Award winning ground-breaking television series “Detail,” which currently airs on ESPN+ as well as the #1 ranked kids and family podcast, “The Punies.” Kobe created The New York Times bestsellers, “The Wizenard Series: Training Camp,” “Legacy and the Queen,” “Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof,” and “The Wizenard Series: Season One.” As President of the studio, Vanessa strives to continue Kobe’s legacy through completed creative projects and those still in the works, including the sequel “Epoca: The River of Sand.” For more information about Granity Studios, please visit www.granitystudios.com.