The Hidden Opponent is incredibly honored and proud to have partnered with Kobe Bryant and Granity Studios on the forthcoming novel Geese Are Never Swans, out everywhere July 21.
“From the mind of Kobe Bryant comes a new powerful novel about the punishing and the healing nature of sports! Geese Are Never Swans is an extraordinary tale about Gus, a young swimmer who struggles to find his rightful place in the world. We follow Gus’s journey through his different stages of grief and personal torment and ultimately discover how channeling emotions into sports can help overcome life’s most difficult obstacles.”
Our Founder, Victoria Garrick, shares some insight on her relationship with Kobe and his dedication to mental health causes.
Q: When did you first meet Kobe Bryant?
I first met Kobe at an event at USC when he came to speak to our student-body. I was extremely lucky to have been chosen by a professor to ask Kobe a question on stage that day, and I chose to ask him about mental health. I wondered what one of the fiercest, most competitive minds in sports had to say about anxiety, depression, and “weakness.” I was blown away at his answer, in which he acknowledged, supported, and gave phenomenal advice on the mental health movement.
Q: How did your relationship with Kobe develop?
When I was in the very first stages of founding The Hidden Opponent, I posted an Instagram announcing that something special was coming soon. I tagged @thehiddenopponent handle even though there was nothing on the page yet. A few hours later, I saw that Kobe liked the picture, followed me, and followed The Hidden Opponent. (I screamed so loud the neighbors probably heard!!) Then, doing what most people would probably do, I slid into Kobe Bryant’s DM’s. I sent him the clip of us on stage from the year prior, with an added message saying that I’d love to chat with him about the mental health work I was doing for athletes. He responded right away and said let’s make it happen. A few weeks later, I was headed to the Kobe Inc. headquarters to meet with him and a few of his associates. (PS: The coolest part looking back on this is that Kobe believed in The Hidden Opponent before it was even founded.)
Q: How did Kobe Bryant get involved with The Hidden Opponent?
I remember I gave my “elevator pitch” of The Hidden Opponent and just prayed that his team would be interested in the idea. Kobe said that he loved the vision for the advocacy group and also felt it was a conversation that needed to be heard. He said he would do anything to help, and it was evident from all of his hard work how much he gave to youth athletes: educating them, supporting them, and guiding them. The very last thing he said about it, and I will never forget this, was, “Oh, and ‘The Hidden Opponent,’ that’s a great name… and I’m a name guy.”
Q: How did the partnership with Geese Are Never Swans come about?
As the publishing was in the works this past Fall, Kobe’s associates were hoping to list a few resources and related groups in the back of the book to give support to any athletes struggling with mental health. It is an extremely special honor for The Hidden Opponent to be included as one of those resources along with The Michael Phelps Foundation.
Q: How emotional has this experience been for you?
It has lit a fire in me that will not stop burning. Everything we do at The Hidden Opponent is truly in Kobe’s honor, and his legacy continues to change lives and impact athletes every single day.
Geese Are Never Swans by Eva Clark and Kobe Bryant will be released on July 21, 2020. Pre-order your copy today!