Saturday, February 18, 2012

Undefeated: A Movie Review

Last night the Engineer and I had the privilege of viewing the new documentary Undefeated.

If you like football, you will really enjoy this docudrama which recently earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary.  But even those who are indifferent to the gridiron will enjoy the life lessons in this true story.  It is a heartwarming story depicting the human struggle to rise above seemingly impossible circumstances.

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(photos from the Undefeated website)

Undefeated is a story about the Manassas Tigers, an underprivileged football team from one of the roughest neighborhoods in Memphis.  Operating on a shoe string budget and only 17 players on the roster, the Manassas program makes a dramatic turnaround at the hands of volunteer head coach, Bill Courtney.

Courtney was a man who believed in the young men of Manassas and was willing to sacrifice so much in his own life and family so that others could have a chance at a life full of opportunity.

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What the Engineer and I appreciated most about this documentary was that the focus wasn’t necessarily on the X’s and O’s of football.  Football was merely the backdrop by which these young men learned that character, hard work, discipline and commitment could open up doors of opportunity.

“Football doesn’t build character.  It reveals character,” is a line that Coach Courtney drills into his players.  The film closely tracks the character development of three players both on and off the field.  The results are amazing as one player learns to control his anger after returning to the field from a year in juvie and two other players earn the right to go to college by hard work on the field and in the class room.

What will strike you about Coach Courtney is how much he sacrificed for these young men.  Bill Courtney readily admits the toll his coaching took on his family and his business.

After growing up fatherless himself, Courtney devotes himself to serving as a surrogate father for many of the players.  The movie reveals his internal struggle with the need he sees in the lives of the Manassas players and yet not wanting to be an absentee father in his own children’s lives.  

Bill Courtney volunteered.  He gave of himself and it COST him something… actually it cost him a lot.  BUT he didn’t give so much of himself that it cost him his family. 

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if only more of us were willing to give our lives for others and still love our families well the way Bill Courtney did.

Watch the trailer here

P.S.  If you want to see how fast a 315 pound 16 year old can run, check out this YouTube video

Thanks Grace Hill Media for allowing me to review this fine documentary.  I was not paid for this post and freely gave my (our) opinion.

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