Getting All Benton into Shape
This is a wonderful, short featurette (about 11 minutes or so) that ESPN aired as part of their "SC Featured" segment on SportsCenter. It's a total pleasure, most likely even if you aren't a sports fan.
It concerns the football team at Benton Harbor High School, a very rough town in Michigan which had gone through troubles. And the team had had its own hard times, going 0-9 the year before and not winning much more during the previous decade. They hadn't even had a winning season since 1989, a quarter of a century. The team had never even made the state playoffs.
Elliot Uzelac was a 74-year-old, retired football coach, who'd had a solid, if not well-known career. He's been an assistant coach in the pros, and had been a head coach on a few middle-tier college teams. After five years of retirement, he got bored and applied to take over the challenge of Benton Harbor. The thing is, he didn't want any money. He told the school to keep it, he just wanted to coach football, and said the money should go back to the school to help the kids. He got hired.
It's not giving anything away, because the coach's wife is seen giving an interview throughout the piece while wearing a sweatshirt that says Benton Harbor Tigers Playoff Football 2015. So...yes, Elliot Uzelac took this dismal, winless team in a very trouble town and, for the first time in the school's history, made the state playoffs.
There's a more to the story, but that's the heart of it. And heart is the right word.
SC Featured: Benton Harbor from ESPNFrontRow on Vimeo.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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