To See Or Not To See: The Heart of the Game
by Jan Stetter
The Heart of the Game is a movie about a Seattle Girls High School basketball team. It is a documentary that chronicles six seasons of the Roosevelt Roughriders’ history as a mediocre team propelling itself to becoming a state finals sports phenomenon.
At the heart of this game is the story of a mild mannered superhero, Bill Ressler who, by day, is a tax professor at The University of Washington. By night, he transforms into the same mild mannered human being who has no real offensive strategy and limited coaching credentials. However, Ressler manages to whip these girls into ferocious, disciplined athletes.
Ressler uses unorthodox methods of strength training, guided imagery and the creation if the Inner Circle -- a sacred circle, void of parents and adults -- to allow teammates to air and negotiate frustrations, and commiserate. In the process, he convinces these young women that they are a calculating pack of alpha female wolves who begin every game in the huddle with a war cry of “DRAW BLOOD!” It is followed by a resounding cry from Coach Ressler to remind the girls to “HAVE FUN!”.
Sounds charming? It is, and more. The director, Ward Serrill, does a superb job of giving the audience the feel of a team identity. He also takes the film a step further by accentuating a few of the girls’ stories concerning some of life’s ugly realities: child abuse, teen pregnancy, class distinction and gender discrimination.
One need not be a sports fan or knowledgeable about point guard and fouls to be caught up in this movie. This story has so much heart in showing issues of adolescence, doubt, acceptance and facing adversity while rising to become a better person because of challenges. Heart surpasses any feel good commercial films in its ability to engage the audience. They become a spectator of the Seattle Roosevelt High School Girls Basketball team and a cheerleader for them as well. SCORE!
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