Tikeh Tazeh is a 12-year-old at New Glarus Middle School. And as of July, he is also a published author.
Tikeh married his love of soccer and reading by writing a 245-page novel titled “Hat Trick,” which is about a 12-year-old soccer player who moves to Dearborn, Michigan with hopes of becoming the star of the soccer team. The character, Gabe Carson, gets injured before he can prove his talents to his teammates, Tikeh said.
“The book is mostly about him during his injury and his recovery and him learning that it’s not all about winning,” Tikeh said.
“It’s also about your character,” he adds.
Tikeh has been writing since he was five years old and playing soccer since he was three. Although this is his first published work, he has finished at least 20 books and at least 25 short stories, he said.
On a telephone call with Tikeh and his mother, Yvonne, Tikeh said he loves to write, estimating he worked on the book for at least 30 minutes a day.
His mom interrupted with a laugh and said, “More than that” — adding that Tikeh sometimes stays up late into the night writing.
“He doesn’t know how long he’s been sitting there,” she said with a laugh. “He will go hours just writing and writing and you’ll have to stop him and say, ‘ya know what? You live in this house… go get your chores done….'”
He said he first writes everything down by hand in a notebook. He outlines the plot points, a summary and the characters before he types the first draft.
“My favorite part is getting to develop the characters,” Tikeh said. “Each one of them is different and it may sound weird, but I like getting to know my characters and getting to make them grow as people and as characters. The characters are my favorite part about writing, really.”
His advanced writing skills come from his love for reading, Yvonne said.
“He’s an avid reader,” she said. “In all the places we’ve lived they would pick out books from the library so much that the librarians know them and our family…It’s really all that love for reading and in-depth knowledge of the sport from reading broadly; that comes together in his writing. So he’s been a joy to watch.”
His knowledge of soccer comes from pure passion, Yvonne said.
“He loves soccer. He reads soccer. He writes soccer. He plays soccer. And boy, does he talk soccer,” Yvonne said with a laugh.
“One thing that I love (about soccer) is how it just unites,” Tikeh added. “I mean, wherever you go in the world, soccer is there: Brazil, England, Cameroon, where my parents are from, even Australia, it’s everywhere. I really love how just one sport can unite so many people from all over the world,” Tikeh said.
With the help of youth services librarian, Rebecca Millerjohn, copies of the book are expected to be available at Madison Public Libraries for check out.
Yvonne said creating and promoting the book was a family affair. And Millerjohn played a role in that.
“I could read the excitement in her emails,” Yvonne said.
In partnership with Forward Madison soccer team, the Madison Public Library and “Team Tazeh” (referring to Tikeh’s family of six), the library created a book announcement video (below) with Forward Madison Head Coach Carl Craig, team captain Connor Tobin and Grant Pieters, director at large of The Flock.
“You are very passionate about it,” Pieters said. “And that is what the key thing about this sport is — whether you are a player, whether you are a fan, or whether you are just someone on the side, this sport is about passion. And what really comes out in the book and in your writing is the passions that you not only have for the written word — which is pretty awesome — but the game as well.”
The combination of passion and ambition, Tobin said, was motivating for him.
“It challenged me to look at myself and say, ‘Am I being ambitious enough, am I doing enough with my passion?” Tobin said. “The world needs more people like you that are combining those two things.”
On the video was Tikeh, Yvonne, his father Ngii, and his three siblings. Forward Madison announced that a portion of Tikeh’s book would be published in The Flock’s magazine, and gave merchandise to both Tikeh and his brother Kiehmi, 14, who helped illustrate and edit the book.
Yvonne said it takes a village, and their family’s village has only gotten bigger.
“For me at home to know what he does and how much he puts into all of this and knowing how deserving he is for all of the recognition and the way that the community put together that Zoom call — it was mind-blowing and it was heartwarming,” she said.