Point Park Grad student, S.F Armstrong, starts presale campaign for his book ‘Ace of Clubs’


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Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

In September of 2022, S.F. Armstrong is set to publish his book “Ace of Clubs.” Although the release isn’t set until later next year, Armstrong recently launched his presale campaign.

Armstrong is currently a graduate student at Point Park University and is in the Community Psychology MA program. He previously attended Duquesne University for his undergraduate classes and studied psychology and multiplatform journalism. Now that Armstrong is at Point Park, he looks to share his book with a variety of perspectives for readers to relate to the book.

“Ace of Clubs” is a satirical fiction book that brings awareness to issues in the soccer industry and the world. Out of the sports to choose from, soccer was his go-to sport and was one he enjoyed playing and still enjoys today.

“Growing up, I really liked soccer, and I played it for years. I still play it sometimes now, but not as much as I used to,” Armstrong said. “I actually didn’t really like watching it until the 2014 World Cup, where the USA did really well. We were kind of a statistical anomaly. In fact, I remember doing a statistics project on this. We were the lowest-scoring team to reach that far in the tournament ever.”

Soccer is a pastime for Armstrong. However, it is also a pastime for the majority of the world. Soccer is played worldwide and is the main and most popular professional sport of many nations, unlike in the United States.

“It’s a universal thing that a lot of different people can sort of get on board with. So…I’ve always wanted to write about a lot of different things. It’s really hard for me to focus sometimes on one subject, but I think soccer lets me focus on a lot of different things,” Armstrong said. “Soccer has a lot of different things at play. There’s a lot of different cultures, there’s a lot of legal systems of different countries that play a huge role.”

In the world today, there are examples of racism and injustices throughout sports. Armstrong said this was apparent to him, and he wanted to take action. Nonetheless, he said he does not want to change anyone’s opinion or enforce his own opinion, but rather hopes members of the community will contemplate how sexism and racism have affected the industry.

“Players become sort of like economic currency, in some sense. There’s a lot going on there and it shows a lot about like differences with justice issues,” he said. “It shows a lot about racism, it shows a lot about sort of sexism. I chose soccer, because it’s a very good medium for talking about other things.”

Armstrong always wanted to write about a topic like soccer, but it wasn’t until a particular incident involving a Belgium soccer player named Romelu Lukaku really influenced him.

“Around the time of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, there was an article in the Players Tribune by Romelu Lukaku, and he talks about how when he was doing really well for Belgium… he would be the Belgian striker. But when he did poorly, he was the Belgian striker of Congolese descent,” Armstrong said. “And so he wasn’t really Belgian unless Belgium could claim him as a positive. And so that’s one example that you can see, on a macro scale.”

Armstrong also provided other details of social injustices on a minor scale and how it impacts the sport of soccer. Soccer is meant to be a team sport where everyone is unified, not a sport where players are only unified when they are doing well, according to Armstrong.
He knew soccer was the right topic for the book. He also knew that he always wanted to write about an important topic like social injustice. However, it wasn’t until during the beginning of the pandemic where he was inspired to write this. Armstrong had an epiphany after watching “Gossip Girl.”

“When I was watching it, the way I interpreted it was totally about class and how people are sort of completely or oblivious about points of view from below. Then I thought, ‘oh, that could totally be like a soccer club,’ where they’re doing they’re supporting some of these things. And they’re just totally oblivious.”

Armstrong combined his interests such as personal experiences, films like “The Devil Wears Prada,” and other articles he has read. All of these things led to the idea for a book.

Armstrong was now interested in what the theme of the story may be. Growing up, he was a huge fan of the movie “Bad News Bears,” which is a baseball movie that shows the importance of relationships and teamwork.

“I think focusing on how people relate is just far more enriching to me and that’s why I like the ‘Bad News Bears,’ and that’s where I think there are a lot of gaps in sports stories,” he said. “That’s why [with] I think ‘Gossip Girl,’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ some of these books really stuck out to me, because they’re about relationships first, and then the world second, and that’s what I wanted to do with this. I wanted it to be about relationships first, and then the world of soccer second.”

In “Ace of Clubs,” the main character Cain Shaw undergoes adversity that he will need to overcome. Shaw is the owner of a soccer club in Westminster, which is a small town in London, England. Shaw goes through alcohol addiction and is surrounded by scandals. This jeopardizes his family and job in the process.

The book also delves into the systemic struggles a woman of color faces playing soccer and her climb to getting a job in the soccer industry. There is also an in-depth look on the life of Shaw’s sister and the struggles she goes through. Overall, Armstrong looks to tell the story from three different perspectives, since not everyone will always have the same opinion.

“It wouldn’t be fair to just go with one perspective on that,” he said. “That’s really the reason why I have three different perspectives because they don’t agree all the time. They sometimes do. They don’t agree all the time because there are multiple sides.”

The writing process has been far from easy for Armstrong He has undergone a few drafts and is still open to any feedback before the release in September of 2022.

“I’ve rewritten it three times already. I will probably rewrite it again because now I’m in the presale phase. To get more editors, to add more graphic designers, I’ll probably rewrite it several more times,” Armstrong said. “And when I say rewrite, I didn’t scrap things, I built on them.”

Armstrong takes criticism from editors and knows that they are trying to help and are making him a better writer. As a former writer on Duquesne’s student-run newspaper, The Duquesne Duke, he has learned to take criticism and continues his ambition on becoming a better writer.

Armstrong said he has months to go before “Ace of Clubs” releases to the public, but he still is fundraising his book. If the book is pre-ordered, the customer not only gets the book but gets a signed copy, a personal thank you note and also helps choose the cover.

Armstrong said he wants many to share their opinions to help his book launch and for this to be a community-driven book.

“I’m open to some awesome opinions,” he said. “The more people I can get on board, the better. It’s really trying to do community sort of publishing.”

Armstrong looks forward to seeing the community read his book. He hopes that “Ace of Clubs” can open the eyes of the reader. “Ace of Clubs” comes out in September of 2022, and he said he can’t wait for everyone to read it.