Joe Drape is an award winning sportswriter for the New York Times. He is a Kansas City native and a graduate of Rockhurst High School. Besides Our Boys, Joe is the author of The Race for the Triple Crown (Grove Atlantic, 2000) and Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend (William Morrow, 2006), a biography of African American jockey Jimmy Winkfield, which won the 2006 Castleton Lyons-Thoroughbred Times Book Award. He also edited To the Swift: Classic Triple Crown Horses and Their Race for Glory (St. Martin’s 2008), a compilation of 150 years of distinguished turf writing from the New York Times.
Joe graduated from Southern Methodist University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He began his career as a nights cop reporter at the Dallas Morning News and worked his way through the paper’s Metropolitan section before being hired as a National Correspondent for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where among other things he covered national political conventions, Hurricane Hugo, and the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. He moved to sports prior to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, where he wrote award winning series from the former Soviet Republics and South Africa in the days after apartheid.
Joe went to the New York Times in 1998 to cover college sports and horse racing and currently writes enterprise and investigative stories in those topics and beyond. In 2002, he was the professional-in-residence in the journalism department at the University of Iowa.
Following an intriguing story about the Smith Center Redmen in 2007, Joe moved with his wife and son to Smith Center to explore what inspires a town about a team, or any focus that builds a powerful sense of community. His book about the coaches, players, parents and residents depict a community bravely clinging to a way of life that is wealthy in its youth and values, even as it struggles with the decline of economic fortunes.
Joe Drape was named a 2010 Sports Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island. His book, Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen was named to the 2010 Kansas Notable Books List. In 2011 it became the second Kansas Notable Book to be selected for Kansas Reads, the one-book/one-state reading and discussion project of the Kansas Center for the Book at the State Library of Kansas.
Joe is currently at work on Soldiers First: A Season Inside West Point (Times Books, 2012), recounting a season in the life of the football team at the U.S. Military Academy focusing on the unique culture of Army football where its players are not going to the NFL but rather to Iraq and Afghanistan and exploring the camaraderie and cohesion among the players, coaches, instructors, and officers.
He lives in New York City with his wife and son, Jack, who wants to return to Smith Center when he enters seventh grade and become a Redman.