Friday nights haven't been the same since high school football season ended. Bring back some of the magic by checking out When the Game Stands Tall (trailer above) with your teammates this winter.
The movie, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 9, tells the inspiring true story of the De La Salle High School (California) football team, which under coach Bob Ladouceur compiled a 151-game winning steak from 1992 to 2004. During that time, they won 12 California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Championship games in a row and were named the top team in the country five times by USA Today. Thirteen De La Salle players from those teams continued on to play in the National Football League.
Those De La Salle teams produced many standouts and future pros, but most of the guys on their rosters were not physically gifted phenoms, but normal, 5-foot-something high schoolers like the ones on your team. When the Game Stands Tall shows how Ladouceur taught these athletes to elevate their abilities together to achieve great things as a team. Below are seven ways that seeing the film will help you and your squad do the same.
1. You'll Learn from the Best
You don't win 151 straight games by accident. The old adage that says, "the will to win is nothing without the will to prepare" is true, and De La Salle knew how to prepare. Watch the movie and you'll see the tough (and smart) training Spartan players underwent. De La Salle's football team was famous for its rigorous conditioning routine, and When the Game Stands Tall offers insight into their hard work. You won't want to miss the Resisted Sled Sprints.
2. You'll Get Fired Up
Coach Ladouceur knew how to inspire his athletes. His motivational speeches will make you want to run through a brick wall. The man missed only a handful of games after suffering a stroke—the game matters that much to him. But the game isn't about winning and losing to Ladouceur. In fact, he said he didn't feel his team's record was important. All Ladouceur wanted was for his players to work together to be the best people they could be.
3. You'll Demand More from Yourself
Ladouceur encouraged his players to pursue perfection, and not just on the field. He wanted his players to be outstanding people, not just outstanding athletes. The coach taught his players stories from the Bible in a way that encouraged them to relate the morals of the stories to their own lives. Spartan players bought into the program and learned to believe in themselves, in no small part because of Ladouceur's patient guidance and off-the-field support. You'll come away from the theatre striving for the high standards Ladouceur upheld.
4. You'll Experience the Excitement of Elite Competition
Ever wonder what it's like to have Division I recruiters hanging around the corridors of your school, waiting to get a few minutes with you and your teammates? Or how it would feel to have a committed base of fans, family and friends following you to every game you play? When the Game Stands Tall vividly displays the exhilaration (and challenges) of playing for one of the top high school programs in the country. From grueling two-a-days to packed stadiums to nail-biting playoff showdowns, the movie takes you on a football thrill ride that until recently had only been available to the Spartans and their loyal fans.
5. You'll Hear From the Pros
Whatever you do, don't stop the movie before the film's credits roll. You'll see testimonials from De La Salle players who made it to the NFL, like T.J. Ward, Maurice Jones-Drew and Amani Toomer. You'll want to hear their stories of how Ladouceur impacted their lives for the better.
6. You'll Realize the Opportunity in Front of You
Perhaps what truly made De La Salle's teams great is that Ladouceur taught players to be a family. High school football gave Spartan players a support system outside their homes, and as the film shows, not every player was fortunate enough to come from a stable household. De La Salle formed a brotherhood, one that overcame challenges and even tragedy together. That bond stayed with the players throughout their lives. When you see its power on-screen, you'll want to develop something similar with your teammates.
7. You Don't Want to Miss Out
Many great football games are played every season, but great movies about life on the gridiron—like The Blind Side, Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights—are rare. When the Game Stands Tall is the next great football film. Don't be left out.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock