Maybe many casual sports fans in the New York area don’t know the story of De La Salle High School. After all, New York is a pro football town; college and high school football are sometimes what goes on well west of the Hudson and south of Staten Island. But the story of De La Salle, its record 151 game winning streak and legendary Coach Bob Ladouceur will be front and center across theaters next Friday when the new film When The Game Stands Tall goes to the big screen nationwide.
The film, directed by Thomas Carter (who also did the great hoops film Coach Carter) is less about the weekly winning that went on for over a decade at the small California school—it actually starts with how the streak ended—and is more about the building of character, the overcoming of obstacles and the values that team sports can bring, especially at the high school level.
Now that is not to say that De La Salle didn’t attract and produce some amazing football players. Just looking at a list that includes Maurice Jones-Drew and former Giant Amani Toomer shows there was lots of sizzle with the steak and reveals that the streak was no fluke. However the real message portrayed is that even with the greatest success, the real winning is in building character that lasts for a lifetime.
That lesson is front and center in the eyes of a pretty prominent New York star in Toomer.
“The message in the film, and what we learned at De La Salle, is pretty clear,” Toomer said in a recent clip about the film. “The teamwork, the life lessons, are what you take away from the experience. Those lessons are what should stay with you and that’s what makes this film so important.”
Jim Caviezel, who also makes his home now in New York as he is starring in the CBS hit series “Person of Interest,” plays the legendary coach in the film, and he agrees with Toomer, that the message is bigger than the game.
“I owe much of what I have today to the lessons learned playing sports—lessons taught to me by some amazing coaches like Coach Lad,” he said. “That is really the message that comes through in the film and is very powerful. “Sports is the best metaphor for life; we get knocked down, we get up, we learn and we move on. This film shows that very clearly, in the way this team, this school and these coaches, taught life lessons and inspired thousands of young people through their examples of how they lived their lives.”
No matter what sport one plays or follows, the bigger lessons that inspire hopefully come through the life stories of those who play and coach the games—positive stories that last a lifetime. If you are a fan of those stories, then check out the film when it opens next week. Like a Giants legend, you should be inspired as well.