victoria garrick and kobe bryantWhen former Division 1 player and PAC-12 champion, Victoria Garrick, met with Kobe Bryant to discuss her organization, The Hidden Opponent, an advocacy group for student-athlete mental health, she learned he was developing a project that aligned with her passion. That project was the new book, Geese Are Never Swans (Granity Studios, July 21, 2020), a multi-category #1 New Release on Amazon. “After that, I received an alert from one of his associates that they wanted to list The Hidden Opponent as a resource in the book,” she recalls to So Booking Cool. “I was incredibly honored. I definitely think at the time I thought ‘is this community even legit enough to be alongside this amazing piece of work?’”

Geese Are Never Swans is the first YA fiction to emerge from Bryant’s award-winning multimedia content company, Granity Studios. He collaborated with psychologist and award-winning novelist, Eva Clark, on the novel, which has been regarded as a powerful, emotional, and earnest read on teen mental health by Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. Ahead of its release, the book has topped the categories of Teen & Young Adult Water Sports Fiction; Teen & Young Adult Siblings Fiction; and Teen & Young Adult Fiction about Depression & Mental Illness.

Before launching The Hidden Opponent (which has over 16,000 followers on Instagram and more than 400 student-athlete members on Facebook), Garrick struggled with depression and body image issues as a student-athlete at University of Southern California. The Broadcast Journalist graduate shared her experiences in a TED Talk, in which she touched on relatable tidbits about how social media can be deceiving and that “a physical injury is treated more seriously than a psychological injury” as an athlete.

“It’s funny ‘cause when I look back on my TED Talk,” the Real Pod host says, “I delivered it with a bit of a…not an attitude, but a lot of passion. You can tell the girl on that stage was screaming for something bigger. And I think it was because I just could not believe how this conversation just was not happening at the time.”

In Bryant’s latest offering to children’s sports literature, readers are introduced to sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett, a passionate swimmer who is determined to play in the Olympics. Gus’s life is far from perfect; he has family drama and still feels trapped in his late brother’s shadow. But he remains a visionary and hard worker—until personal struggles become inner demons, exacerbated by the toxicity that sometimes plays out in sports culture.

Image of  Geese Are Never Swans  book with other Granity Studios books, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Jeff Lewis)

Garrick believes the book will help move the conversation forward. “…Kobe bringing to light this incredible story about athlete mental health, an athlete like him, a legacy like his, is going to make an impact for a very, very long time.”

Check out the interview to learn more about Garrick; Geese Are Never Swans; and The Hidden Opponent including when she founded it and how people have responded to it so far; whether she plans to write a book of her own; and more! For more information, visit Granity Studios and The Hidden Opponent online.

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