The Long Green Line
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THREE STARS Running is hard. It takes a healthy body and disciplined mind to overcome the physical and mental obstacles to cross the finish line. The Long Green Line paints the picture of the 2005 York Dukes cross-country team combating myriad obstacles to add to its already-impressive resume. Along the way, it provides a wide array of compelling figures and story lines to get wrapped up in. The documentary, directed by Elmhurst native Matthew Arnold, follows the high-school squad from the beginning of the season to the capture of a remarkable 25th state title in Peoria. At times moving, at times jovial, it captures the drama and camaraderie born out of a local dynasty striving to add yet another piece of hardware to its trophy case. But the real story -- the film's unequivocal star -- is the Dukes' incomparable coach Joe Newton. The master motivator is a spry, cunning 76-year-old savant who comes off nothing short of larger than life. It's captivating to watch him coddle those who need to be coddled and deliver tough love to the ones who better respond to harsher criticism. He brings a tried and true set of values that help mold the team into better citizens and tougher competitors. As directed by Arnold, a former member of the York Dukes, the film is a healthy reminder of how sports can mold young men and women into better people. Arnold and his team succeed in presenting several examples of runners reaching individual goals. From the Dettman twins, senior co-captains overcoming health issues for their fourth straight state title to the wide-eyed and raw freshman Joe Kiolbasa, we're reminded that hard work pays off. The Long Green Line serves as a refresher course in how team sports can provide priceless life lessons and tug at the heartstrings when done right. --Kyle Koster, Chicago Sun-Times
THREE STARS Inspirational sports documentaries are a dime a dozen. Matthew Arnold's doc is pure gold from its handsome production values to its dramatically engrossing look at legendary cross country coach Joe Newton in his 50th year at York High School in Elmhurst. Equal parts Mr. Miyagi, Dr. Phil and General George Patton, Newton pumps and primes his athletes for their 25th state title, only to be hit by virus attacks and frequent bouts of youthful stupidity. --Daily Herald
Top Customer Reviews
After watching the film, here is what I think is his formula for success:
* Recruit a lot of freshman. Coach Newton aggressively recruits 50-100 freshman for the boy's cross country team each year.
* Get to know every runner on your team. Coach Newton gets to know each and every one of his over 220 runners. He give each one a nickname. He shakes their hand at each practice.
* Develop each runner. One of the runners featured in the film has cerebral palsy and can barely run at the beginning of the season. Coach Newton invests as much time with him as some of his top runners. He is soon beating other runners in races.
* Challenge each runner to do their best. Coach Newton provides his team with an inspirational quote each day. It's clear that he sees running as a metaphor for life.
* Develop team depth. In the film, several of York's top seven varsity runners aren't able to compete due to various problems, but the team is so deep their places are taken by the next runners on the squad and the team's performance doesn't suffer.
* Celebrate wins. Coach Newton and the York team celebrate both team and individual wins through out the season.
* Create a winning tradition. By winning so many State Championships, Coach Newton is both able to recruit runners who might have chosen other sports and to motivate the runners on his squad to keep the tradition going.Read more ›
In this movie, we are told that Joe Newton is a great high school cross country coach. Indeed, he is seeking his 25th Illinois state cross country title. But what we don't see is WHY he is a great coach. We never see him, for instance, working with an athlete on his running form, discussing training methods (long runs versus sprints, for instance) or even advising a boy on race strategy. All he seems to do is read an inspirational quote at the beginning of each practice, and then leave the actual coaching to his assistants.
In fact, if I was to explain why Newton's teams are successful -- based on what I saw in this documentary -- I would say it's just a matter of sheer numbers. At the beginning of the season, Newton has his upperclassmen go around the school and recruit runners. They end up with something like 180 boys -- a HUGE number for a cross country team (you only need seven). When you start with that many runners some of them are bound to be good.
I suspect that those who know Joe Newton would say that I don't know the whole story -- and that's exactly my point. The movie doesn't give us a complete picture. It assumes we will just accept that Joe Newton is a great coach without showing us how he does it.
Newton is old school, doling out tough love with daily motivational quotes to his charges. More than great runners, he aims to develop young men of strong character. Challenges abound in this quest as teens are tempted by booze and the lure of petty crime. The story lines are compelling and the movie is an inspiring glimpse of one man's commitment to excellence in his craft.
"The Long Green Line" is superb!
It is unbelievable what this man accomplishes year after year, decade after decade. This is not a school that gets to offer incentives for top athletes to attend. On the contrary, he takes whoever he gets. Often times,these are ackward Freshman boys who come out for Cross Country because it is a non-cut sport! Over the course of a few short months in a season, and a few seasons in their H.S. career, he turns these young boys into athletes and respectable men.
One thing I found especially inspiring while watching the movie is how he and his Long Green Line are able to prevail dispite adversity. He creates such depth in his teams that when trouble arises (as it often can with young men) they have additional talent to call upon--additional men to rise to the challenge. Joe believes in them, so they believe in themselves. Perhaps this is how The Long Green Line continually manages to succeed!
This movie is inspiring for athletes young and old, for parents trying to inspire their children, for teachers and coaches looking for a way to make a difference. Don't miss it!!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a good movie, but maybe not so much if you aren't a runner. It was a little slow in parts, thats why I only gave it four stars. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nw12bw18
I love this movie. I watch it every time I need inspiration either in running or life!Published 2 months ago by Tamara Hoover
very good movie. Would have appreciated actual tips from the coach about he runs a practice.Published 4 months ago by Mike Zamrin
This is a film all middle and high school coaches should show their teams. Makes it clear that while tradition is a great factor, nothing is guaranteed, things can go wrong, and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by jbprojects
I ran cross country in high school and junior college and now I coach. I watched this the night before our first practice and loved it. Inspirational!Published 7 months ago by C D.