Outlook: First of all, I really enjoyed the movie. And the fact that it was
based on a true story just makes it even better.
Thanks very much.
PO: So here you are, out in a remote
area, kind of a Coach's Purgatory: how did you decide to go from coaching
football to coaching track?
CW: Well, the
movie took a little bit of liberty there, in order to tell the story. I
actually did still help with the football program, but after a while, track
became my primary emphasis, just because it was something I really enjoyed,
and the boys seemed to be responding positively.
PO: They sure did. It's amazing how
you were able to take a bunch of untrained high schoolers and turn them into
competitive athletes. How did you do that? I mean, where did you start with
evaluating the talent?
CW: I started
with P.E. I was also teaching Physical Education classes, and I simply had
everybody run a mile. With those who finished under six minutes, I figured I
had something to work with.
PO: Ah, that makes sense. And so you
had several who were able to run a six minute mile without any training at
CW: Yes, they
were in pretty good shape because of all that working in the picking fields
that you saw in the movie. It's not like they spent all their time in front of
the television playing video games and eating potato chips.
PO: Yeah, that part was really vivid,
about the boys having to work afternoons and weekends alongside their
families, picking cabbage.
they didn't do cabbage. That was another little liberty in the film; it was
really more cotton and grapes, and hoeing the weeds in between the rows, and
also picking oranges.
PO: But it is true about your going
out there once with them and quickly realizing how backbreaking it was?
CW: Yes, and
it's also true that I had to modify their workout schedule accordingly. I had
to take them when I could get them, not when it was convenient for me.
PO: That must have been really
exciting when you began to see some progress.
CW: Yes, and
it was also true about how at first we didn't do well in the meets because we
weren't accustomed to running on hills. But I adjusted their training regimen
to include that.
PO: Is it also true about that
community helping with your daughter's Quinceanera?
Well, actually, it was a Sweet 16 party, but yes, by that time the parents
were family friends, too.But my wife did a lot more for that than they
gave her credit for in the movie. She organized tamales sales, and pizza bakes
for fund raisers. She hugged their sweaty bodies after a race. And she even
went with me to see one of them in jail.
PO; That was kind of poignant, at the
end, about that one team member who had landed in prison.
CW: Yes, but
the community accepted him back, and I'm proud to say that he's doing OK now.
And I know that not because of working with the track team so much as through
the church community.
PO: They didn't say much about the
church connection in the movie.
CW: No, but
my wife and I are involved in the worship, and we're music leaders. I've led
Bible classes, and even preached, baptized, and performed a wedding, so we're
PO: As a Christian myself, I wish that
part could have been emphasized more.
CW: Me, too,
but overall, I don't have any complaints. They did a good job with telling the
PO: Yeah, it's not every guy who gets
a movie of their life starring Kevin Costner! What fun!
Yes, it's all been a lot of fun.
PO: Anything else that wasn't
represented correctly in the movie?
Well, they showed all the Hispanic boys being Catholic, which wasn't true, and
I thought was kind of a sterotype. There were several Protestants
denominations represented there, but I guess they were trying to simplify
my wifeā€s father was a
minister, so they didn't need to imply that there was anybody
drunk, or smoking, or womanizing, or cussing, or anything like that. But for
the most part they got it right.
PO: Well I think you should be proud,
Coach White, and I say congratulations and best wishes!