I recently had the wonderful opportunity to watch the award winning film, The Long Green Line by LGL Productions. A colleague of mine, a fellow teacher and coach, strongly suggested that I see it. He felt the film would help support and confirm all the positive things sports should be encouraging in others.
Now traditionally, I am a sucker for true-to-life stories that motivate; however, documentary-type films are not necessarily the kind that jumps to the top of my list. That particular point is what made this film such a nice surprise (it most certainly did not disappoint) as it details Joe Newton's incredibly successful coaching career at York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.
The documentary reiterates the account of Joe's and his team's quest for a 25th State Cross Country Championship, highlighting his many coaching accomplishments along the way. Included are all the trials and tribulations, of which there were many, that took place throughout that one fateful season, along with a strong emphasis on Coach Newton's coaching philosophies and the many positive concepts he tries to instill in all athletes under his direction.
A very inspirational film, it is a "must see" for any kid, parent or coach involved in sports, and not just cross country, but any sport. The consistent and resolute discussions and examples of intrinsic (internal) principles like commitment, discipline, work ethic, heart, teamwork, etc., by Coach Newton and his assistant, over and above anything else, hammer home how essential they are to goal achievement.
I find it especially interesting, almost uncanny, how similar many of Joe Newton's ideas dovetail the concepts I used to achieve my own athletic success. They are the same types of things I support and encourage in other athletes when I speak, and they most certainly support the underlying guidelines emphasized in my book, Becoming a True Champion.
The last time I felt this way about a coach's philosophy on success occurred during a Master's course where I was assigned homework to watch a videotape on Coach John Wooden and his coaching, and life, principles. In retrospect, the emotional response I had as I watched coach Wooden detail intrinsic components I used myself as an athlete, long before I ever knew who he was, were similar to what I experienced when watching Joe Newton in The Long Green Line.
What strikes a cord with me most, the one thing that really holds my attention, is how incredibly similar all three of our thought processes are regarding the path toward, and meaning behind, "real" achievement. This is even with decades of age between us - me in my early 50's, Newton in his early 80's, and Wooden one year away from being a century old.
In fact, when I find others who have struggled through their own tough and most difficult situations of adversity, whether in sports or in life, even those much younger than myself (some 80 years younger than John Wooden), I hear them speak of, and see them demonstrate, the same exact principles that I and these two coaches support and encourage.
So much about sports and sports participation has changed over the years; yet there is still so much that has stayed the same. And those things that have stayed the same - the things that every single athlete, every single person, will need in order to ever have a chance at reaching their potential (athletic or otherwise), are all characteristics that come from within: Internal values, beliefs, and principles which help build an inner strength that is difficult to measure. They are constants, cornerstones of success that can never be forgotten, nor ever be eliminated from the equation. Essentially, they are the foundations or building blocks for anything that one wants to accomplish - in anything.
Yes, The Long Green Line is a must see for anyone involved in sports, for it truly does remind us all about the real purpose behind athletic endeavor, and the intrinsic components necessary for achieving "true" success in that endeavor.