This guest post is written by Nathan Goodroe, a WyldLife leader in Clemson, SC.
I was searching through Netflix one night looking for something to watch with my father. I naturally headed toward the documentaries. I knew he might not be as excited as I was for a two hour long video on Alaskan bears, so I began to scroll through the sports documentaries looking for a good “ESPN 30 for 30”. We stumbled across a different movie though, “Undefeated”.
At first glance, it appeared like any other football movie, akin to “Facing the Giants” or perhaps “Remember the Titans”. I rifled my brain and remembered that a while ago I remembered seeing that this movie won the Oscar for Best Documentary so we were willing to invest two hours of our time.
The movie follows the Manassas Tigers, a football team from Memphis, Tennessee, and their quest to reach and win a playoff game for the first time in their long history. The team wrestles with the overwhelmingly horrendous performances of previous years, the difficulties of keeping their players out of trouble, and having to run a football program that is underfunded. The majority of the movie follows their coach, Bill Courtney, a six-year volunteer coach, as he faces another season full of ups and downs.
The reason every Younglife leader should watch this movie is simple: it is a beautiful picture of high school students and what doing something of importance with these kids looks like. These kids are unscripted and are not paid actors. They are real life teenagers with real life problems. They struggle in classes, they come from broken homes, and they get in fights. Some of the players are future college stars, while others don’t see the field for most of year. Courtney builds relationships with these kids that aren’t just about football. He is involved in their lives and he has earned the right to be heard. He wrestles with the difficult question, “Is any of this really making a difference?”
This movie shows that having relationships with high schoolers is hard. Courtney talks at some points about his exhaustion working a full time job and coming and pouring so much of himself into the team. There are times when teenagers don’t want to listen to whatever someone has to say to them. But on the other hand, this movie shows vividly how pouring into kids and caring deeply can not only change the course of their life, but also change the heart of the one serving.
Thanks, Nathan. It’s refreshing to know high school folks and those that walk alongside them are being portrayed in a genuine way in the media.
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