By Charles Hallman
Besides Black History Month, February also honors the accomplishments of women and girls in sport. The University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport for the past three years has held women’s film screenings at the Gopher football stadium to mark the occasion.
Two films from last year’s ESPN’s “Nine for IX” series were featured at the 2014 Tucker Center Film Festival Feb. 6. Coach chronicles Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer, women’s basketball’s winningest active coach with 900+ wins.
The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary Short award winner shows the longtime coach’s milestones, including her 2009 induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and her trials, which includes the deaths of her father and husband and her only daughter becoming physically and developmentally disabled by spinal meningitis.
It preceded Pat XO, which tells the story of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who was the winningest coach in NCAA women’s basketball before she resigned in 2012 because of early-onset dementia.
Both films were produced by Black women — Whoopi Goldberg produced the Stringer film, and Robin Roberts produced the Summitt film.
The MSR afterwards talked to three individuals who attended the films.
“They both have a great legacy in winning games and building a foundation for their basketball program[s],” said U-M sophomore Damarius Tarvis. He admitted that he had previously heard of Summitt but not Stringer, but added that both
films were inspirational. “Because I play football, I want to be the best at what I do,” the sport management major added.
DeLaSalle High School classmates Tori Smith and Jonalyn Fair were there as well — the juniors were researching for a class project on Title IX.
“I really didn’t know anything about the two women” prior to seeing the films, said Smith.
“I learned from the two films a lot more about the impact of Title IX,” added Fair. “It was nice to see a lot of women doing positive things. Miss Pat [Summitt] did a lot for women’s athletics and for the University of Tennessee. [The Stringer film] really paints a picture of how she impacted the lives of a lot of women, and women’s sports in general.”
Austin Stair Calhoun founded the Tucker Center Film Festival. She told the audience prior to the showing that out of an estimated 1,300 films on sports, less than a hundred are about women. She told the MSR afterwards, “I had a feeling there weren’t that many … When you Google women in sports films, you get A League of Their Own. I wasn’t really shocked, but what I was surprised by that there’s more films about women in gymnastics and figure skating than probably any other category [of women’s sports films].”
Because of the partnership with ESPNW, the Tucker Center was able to secure the two films that were previously aired on ESPN last summer, said Calhoun, who also showed a trailer for From the Rough, a 2013 film starring Taraji P. Henson and the late Michael Clarke Duncan. Based on a true story, Henson plays Catana Starks, a Black female coaching the Tennessee State University men’s golf team. The film is slated for release this spring, and Calhoun said she hopes to get it for next year’s film festival.
Each year’s film festival is well attended, especially by students. “I really appreciate that we always get a good student population coming here,” Calhoun said, “because I think that it is important for that next generation to see these films, these legends, these pioneers.”
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