RICHMOND - Virginia Tech just spent over $21 million on a new practice facility for their football program, money well spent according to most observers. VCU is about to open a similar facility on their campus for their basketball programs. They have become necessary for any team that wants to not only improve on the court or the field, but attract the next generation of athletes who hope to advance the program forward.
Now imagine any of these teams or schools trying to win without any place to practice. It does happen, especially at the high school level.
Back in 1996, David Stott took over the swimming programs at the Collegiate School, which did not have any place of their own in which to practice. Nevertheless, Stott was encouraged by his boss to go out and win it all.
"My first meeting with Charlie McFall, the then-Athletic Director at Collegiate, he said 'We don't have a pool, but we think you can win states'" Stott remembered recently. "I was like 'Alright. Challenge accepted!'"
"The team was small to start with and we were practicing at pools all over place. We cobbled together this crazy practice schedule. We were on buses and at five different locations per week. But we pulled it together and made a run." Stott said.
That team and their state championship season is the basis for a new movie that Stott wrote and directed called "Coach Of The Year" (coachoftheyearfilm.com). The logistical challenges Stott overcame in coaching helped him conquer the same hurdles in filmmaking.
"How do you put together a season without that?" Stott said. "With the movie, how do you put together a big movie like this? It's a pretty big movie. It's kind of the dumbest thing I could have done."
Wtih a very small budget, Stott has relied on favors and help from both the Hollywood and swimming industries. He met his film's producer while working as a production assistant on a Jay-Z video when she sent him out in the middle of the night to get black socks in Queens.
"New York is the city that never sleeps. But Queens sleeps" Stott said.
Still, he managed to pull off that task and earn the respect and admiration of those who learned about his pet project. Stott studied film making in college but his career began working on film's that did not exactly hold his interest or reflect his passions. He was encouraged to make this movie by those who knew his story and believed in his talent. There is also a guest cameo appearance by an Olympic medal-winning swimmer who will be readily recognized by even the most casual of swimming fans.
Nancy Allen edited the music. Her previous credits include "The Lord Of The Rings" movies, "Black Swan" and "The Pianist". She volunteered to work on the film because she saw it, loved it and believed in the project. SwimOutlet.com heard about the project and, without seeing it, donated $25,000 worth of swimming gear and costumes for the actors. "Getting it (the movie) to be as authentic as possible with no money was very important to us also" Stott said.
The movie debuted at the Byrd Theater and will be distributed by a service called Gathr, which helps independent films find empty movie screens and theaters across the country in multiplexes and movie houses. Ironically, a good portion of the movie was filmed at Collegiate's Aquatic Center in Chesterfield County, and many of the extras are Richmond area residents who have waited a long time to see the fruits of everyone's labor.
"People have been waiting three years" Stott said. "Every time I come home, 'when is the movie coming out? are you ever going to finish?' I'm able to say yes, here it is. It looks great, thank you so much for your patience. We're really proud of it and thrilled with how it turned out."
More information on the movie can be found here coachoftheyearfilm.com.