Roll, Crimson, Roll: Professional soccer player pens children's book about Alabama football
Growing up in Florida, Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella wasn’t a big SEC fan. In fact, since both of his parents went to Penn State, he was a Nittany Lions fan until he met his wife, Kendall, who went to Florida State.
His only real connection to the SEC was his brother, who attended Florida, but rooting for the Gators never crossed his mind.
“I can’t stand them,” he laughed, adding that he’s trying to become a bigger Seminoles fan for his wife’s sake. “I’m slowly learning to like (the Noles).”
Based on that information, Attinella doesn’t seem like a very likely candidate to write a children’s book about the history of Alabama football, but that’s exactly the project that he’s working on at the moment. Attinella has written four books for his It Had to be Told publishing company, and the book about the Tide — called “Roll, Crimson, Roll” — will be number five.
Attinella, who has tackled such topics as the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory, the Cleveland Cavaliers ending their city’s long title drought by winning the NBA Finals, the New England Patriots erasing a huge deficit in Super Bowl LI to beat the Atlanta Falcons and the space race, has now immersed himself in the culture of Alabama football for his newest book.
“Obviously, it’s something that Alabama fans are super passionate about and it’s a dynasty that’s been going on,” he said. “A lot people love to hate it, but you have to respect it at the same time. We talk about Bear Bryant, their rivalries, what goes on on campus, what it’s like to be an Alabama student. Then we go through the championship games and the big plays everyone wants to remember. It’s just kind of a timeline of the history of Alabama football.
“We also sprinkle in a little bit of what campus life is like, like tailgating and stuff like that.”
When you grow up in Alabama, you are born into one of the fiercest rivalries in college football. Many children are already passionate about the Iron Bowl rivalry before they even start school.
With so many young fans already invested in the rivalry, a children’s book about Alabama football might become pretty popular in the Tuscaloosa area. As a father, Attinella understands the power of reading and knows that it’s important to read things that pique your child’s interest.
“As I get older and have a daughter of my own, you learn that reading to your kid and being a kid who reads in general is so important,” he said.
He then added that the book isn’t solely about football, as it also touches on other aspects of campus life in Tuscaloosa.
“Everyone wants to talk about the football aspect of it, but we sprinkle in what a game day is like in Tuscaloosa — the restaurants, the Bear Bryant museum with all the history on display,” he said. “It’s a Dr. Seuss way to put the story together so that parents are reading it to their kids and it’s fun.”
It has also been fun for Attinella, an All-American at South Florida, to learn more about one of college football’s most storied programs. He’s a busy guy, having started the past two games for the Timbers, who are vying for a playoff spot in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, but he said he’s enjoyed diving into the rich history of the Crimson Tide.
“A lot of it gets done on road trips,” he said. “It’s a lot of downtime, just sitting in hotels or on flights. It’s fun. Instead of watching TV all night, it’s fun to dive in and, in this case, really dive in and learn about Alabama football and add to my sports knowledge.”
As Attinella and his publishing team, made up of his wife, his father-in-law and others, raise money for the Alabama project, there are some interesting prizes for donors. One, in particular, allows Alabama fans to send the book to schools in the Auburn area.
“We have different awards,” he said. “A huge part of college football, especially down there, is rivalries. Some of our awards, you can send books to different SEC schools, trying to tap into those schools’ fan bases. We’re trying to have some fun and also do something good.”
Attinella’s book about the Chicago Cubs, illustrated by Mike Pascale (the Alabama book will be illustrated by Steve Madden), won the silver medal for the Independent Publishers Association’s Best First Book contest. To learn more about “It Had to be Told” publishing, or to contribute to the publishing effort, visit ithadtobetold.com.