A few weeks before beginning my senior year of high school, my mother read a sad story in the newspaper, then ran into my room, woke me up, and said, “You need to read this!” After a long night of work, all I wanted was a few more hours of shuteye. But I groggily took the paper from her. Ten minutes later, I was standing alone on my high school soccer field, trying to make sense of the death of one of my fellow teammates. It was a shock to the school, our team, and our community. It took quite a while for life to resemble normalcy again.
Tragedies do happen in our lives—sometimes to the best people. A few years ago, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel did a feature on the town of Iowa City IA. No, not for anything Iowa Hawkeye-related. Instead, it centered around West High School and a student named Caroline Found (known as Line to those close to her). She was the setter on the state champion volleyball team and was looking forward to defending the state title the following year. But tragedy struck.
Here’s the feature from Real Sports—it’s about 15 minutes in length, but completely worth your time.
Sean McNamara, the director of Soul Surfer, made a film about Caroline’s life that’s called The Miracle Season. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a great reminder that one’s legacy can be a powerful thing to empower and encourage others to be their best.
For the most part, McNamara did a great job selecting the cast. Danika Yarosh (Jack Reacher) played Line and was a consummate sparkplug in her short time on screen. Upon her character’s death, Line’s friend Kelly (Erin Moriarty) takes over as West’s setter for the last three-fourths of the movie. Moriarty shows a timidness that begins to be transformed into a Line-like persona by the time of the big championship match. William Hurt and Helen Hunt play their respective roles of Ernie Found and Coach Kathy Bresnahan with aplomb. There are lots of tears to go around, as you might expect in a film of this nature. The one issue lies in the depth of characterization for everyone outside of Line. Because there’s so much to talk about, the story takes center stage and puts the characters as an afterthought. As a result, when it comes time to really care about the struggles Ernie is dealing with or how Coach is transforming a bunch of hurting teenagers into a championship team, the effects are minimized when they need to be accentuated.
With that said, the cinematography is well executed with long, sweeping shots of Iowa farmlands and packed out gymnasiums full of passionate volleyball fans. The match sequences convey appropriate amounts of teamwork, camaraderie, and sheer ahtleticism. Volleyball isn’t always known for long, drawn-out points, so McNamara gets the most out of his time on the court. In the end, this is what saves the film and makes it worth viewing.
Line’s legacy is powerful enough to transform her school and even garner admiration from rivals. To me, that’s powerful. None of us have any idea how we’ll be remembered after we pass from this earth, so we need to be examples to our friends, family, and others through our actions, words, and lifestyle. They can take the lessons we’ve taught and pass them down to future generations. In addition, I find Kelly’s transformation into Line encouraging. It’s not easy to fill the shoes of another, but if we’re asked, we should certainly try to the best of our abilities. She tried and failed miserably at first, but as time passed, she began to become the true leader of her team. Isaiah saw a vision and was then asked by God, “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8). I’m sure when he heard what God wanted him to do, he was a bit fearful and overwhelmed. But he gathered up his strength and did his best. And to this day, his legacy of pointing people to Jesus still exists.
In the case of my friend, his legacy remains through an annual soccer tournament that raises money for a scholarship bearing his name. May The Miracle Season remind us of the legacy we’d like to leave while providing a boost of inspiration, encouragement, and challenge in people’s lives through the life of Line.