Last week I finally got to watch the recently made Disney movie McFarland USA. The movie is about coach Jim Wright’s, played by Kevin Costner, journey to a small undesirable city in California. The high school he begins working at serves the largely Latino farming population of the city. He does not last long as the football coach and begins to notice the ability of the students at the school to run miles at a time without any thought. He discovers that the state of California is holding its first ever state cross country meet that year and is able to convince seven of the boys at the school to run for him. He begins to study the sport of running and works with his team to get their endurance to the level it needs to be. There are many different personalities on the team and as with any high school coach he needs to deal with the reality of the lives of his students first in order to help them become better athletes. As he and his family get accepted more and more into a community where they had first felt as outcasts, Wright becomes successful with the team. The story concludes with the team making it to the state championship, but I will let you watch it yourself to find out how they perform at the meet!
The movie itself was very inspiring on various levels. As a teacher I loved the movie because it truly showed how our jobs are so much more than teaching curriculum. It showed the importance of being aware of our students’ circumstances and not being afraid to discuss them with students, especially when we have never experienced something similar to their daily routine. As a runner I loved the movie because it truly shows the importance of will and desire in the sport. No matter your circumstances you get to decide how hard you are going to work each day you step out for a run-or if you will at all that day. You get to decide what your limitations will be and whether or not you will push yourself to exceed them. This movie was great at capturing the tenacity of runners, the joy that running can bring to a person, and the truly transformative nature of the sport. Lastly it was just a great movie as a member of society. After the state meet concludes and the movie wraps up, like many movies based on true stories the “real-life” accounts began scrolling on the screen. The awesome part about the way Disney decided to present this was that they had the actual Jim Wright riding on his bike alongside runners he still coaches today who were surrounded by the men whose adolescent lives were portrayed in the movie. Reading about their success throughout their lives while watching them run alongside the coach who enabled them was truly amazing to see. It was something I have never seen done in a movie before, and really drove home the success of Wright and the members of his original team. The men on that team all went to college and have jobs today that they could work in any city around the country. However, the majority of them work and still live in McFarland. Although they could have gotten out they stayed to help the people of their city just as Wright helped them to succeed.
The movie is just over two hours, but there was never a time when I was waiting for it to be over. Usually on a weeknight if Robert and I are watching a movie one of us falls asleep or we turn it off before it’s over to finish it the next day. Both of us stayed captivated throughout the entire movie and were electrified when the credits finally ran. It was a great movie about running and the triumphs it can bring.