Anybody who knows me, knows that I’m a total sucker for feel-good, underdog movies. If they also happen to be true stories, you’ll witness me melting into an inspired puddle of happiness in need of a box of tissues. You can imagine what I was like when I saw the movie, McFarland USA, one of the most uplifting running movies I’ve seen in years.
For those of you who have not seen McFarland USA yet, do yourself a favor and rent it on NetFlix. Yes, it’s a running film, but it’s so much more.
Here’s the official film synopsis:
Track coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a newcomer to a predominantly Latino high-school in California’s Central Valley. Coach White and his new students find that they have much to learn about one another, but things begin to change when White realizes the boys’ exceptional running ability. More than just physical prowess drives the teens to succeed; their strong family ties, incredible work ethic and commitment to their team all play a factor in forging these novice runners into champions.
While I would definitely encourage you to check out this film, this post is not meant to be a movie review. Rather, I wanted to share a fun moment of serendipity I experienced last weekend, related to McFarland USA.
On Sunday morning we held our final gathering of our Coyotes youth running club. Our team of thirty-six kiddos, ages 4-12, all gathered at the starting line of the State Street Mile to compete, and afterward celebrate our team’s effort for the season.
It was pure joy watching these kids soar and give it their all, many competing in their first race ever. It’s truly what this coach lives for—witnessing that sparkle of confidence as they cross the finish line.
After the race, we reveled in our team’s accomplishments, handed out awards and enjoyed a sweet treat. Near the end of it all, the team surrounded us coaches in “running love”—hugs, thank yous, gifts, etc. It was incredibly sweet and humbling.
While this was all going on, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a stocky, fit looking guy studying our team’s mileage board with the intensity of a detective. I figured he must be a relative of one of our kiddos whom I hadn’t yet met.
When I turned to say hello, he said, “I’m looking at your board here. I think I’m going to steal your ideas. I’ve been watching what you’re doing. This looks really great. I also saw you at the beginning of the race honoring your runners.”
I immediately barked, “You can’t steal our ideas!” which made his eyes grow big as donuts and sent him taking a step backward. That is until I laughed and said, “Because you can’t steal something I’m happy to share with you. We’re all one big running community after all, right?”
He let out his breath and laughed.
I went on to share many of the details of our program, then I finally asked who he was and what he was about. He didn’t say his name, but simply said, Continue reading