Author, author! DLCCC's Kim Bettcher pens children's book on football
Though most of her career has been focused on sports and fitness, Detroit Lakes resident Kim Bettcher has also had another secret passion: writing.
"I have been writing for years -- since I was little," says Bettcher, who has been at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center since it opened in 2001 -- first as fitness and aquatics director, and now as one of its two programming directors.
But until a few years ago, she'd never attempted to get any of her poems or stories published.
"One day five years ago, we were sitting in a beautiful bookstore in Denver, Colo. -- the Tattered Cover Bookstore -- and my son Jake wanted to find a football book that he could read (i.e., at his reading level)," Bettcher said.
They couldn't find any that were appropriate for his age level -- so Bettcher promised Jake, "I will write you a book about football."
It may have taken a few years to make it happen, but she finally did it -- and Sam Picks Football was published this year.
The book is the first in what Bettcher is planning to make into a series, under the heading "A Way-To-Play Books."
The "Way-To-Play" premise is that at the back of each book, there will be a short section of instructions for playing the game or activity that is highlighted in each book.
"I was noticing that a lot of kids were playing video games and not going outside to play," Bettcher said. With so much information available now about childhood obesity being caused by kids choosing to play video games instead of being more physically active, Bettcher said, "That's it. I'm writing a book."
The series she is planning is intended to encourage kids to go outside and play -- and maybe bring their parents along to participate as well.
"These books are intended for parents to be able to read with their kids," Bettcher said.
"I wanted to put the message out there that there's fun, creative ways to play and be active" -- and they're usually not that complicated to set up, she added.
The first book in the series includes a "step-by-step guide for setting up an easy game of football" -- one that can be played in the back yard or at the park.
"I have a lot of friends who don't know about football, but their kids are interested in it," Bettcher explained.
By including a simple set of instructions in the back of the book, she hopes more parents will take the opportunity to participate in a quick game with their kids.
Bettcher is in the process of planning two more books, on treasure hunting and swimming, and she hopes to write more as well.
The publisher of her book, Purple Frog Publishing, is actually a company set up by Bettcher herself, for the purpose of publishing and marketing her book series.
"I got positive feedback from traditional publishing houses, but I had a vision of how I saw this series and I wanted to maintain creative control over it," Bettcher explained.
The book is now available locally not only at the DLCCC, but also at Book World and Norby's Department Store. You can also order it online at Bettcher's web site, www.awaytoplaybooks.com, which includes information about the series as well as Bettcher and the book's illustrator, Sara J. Weingartner.
Weingartner, who lives in Minneapolis, is someone whom Bettcher got to know through her membership in the Minnesota Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. When sh put out a call for an illustrator through the Society, Weingartner answered the call -- and within 48 hours, had drawn up some preliminary sketches.
"She did a beautiful job," Bettcher said.
A native of St. Cloud, Minn., Bettcher graduated from St. Cloud Technical High School, then went on to earn a degree in sports management from Bemidji State University.
She and her husband, Josh, have been residents of Detroit Lakes for the past 10 years; prior to going to work at the DLCCC, she was the fitness and aquatics director at the Perham Area Community Center.
Josh is a biology teacher at Detroit Lakes High School, where he also works as a JV football coach and junior high basketball coach.
Besides Jake, who is now 8½ years old, the couple also has two younger daughters: Alexandra, 6, and Gabriella, who is 3 (but just a few weeks away from her 4th birthday).