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The Long Green Line

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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(Oct 14, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Coach Joe Newton has used the sport of Cross Country Running to teach simple but important lessons to high school boys for the last 50 years. "Always do your best", "be on time" and "it's nice to be great but far greater to be nice" are mantras, which have turned the Boys Cross Country team at the public York High School in Elmhurst Illinois into the most winning high school team in any sport in America. Along with mastery of their sport, Newton turns boys into men, who carry his teaching and his love for each of them throughout their lives. The Long Green Line documents the York Duke's 2005 Cross Country season as the runners seek their record 25th state title in 50 years. In the sport of Cross Country only the top 5 athletes per team score points and only seven are included in competition. The York team has 221 athletes participating under the tutelage of Coach Newton. Though 214 boys know they will have no influence on the season's scores, they are moved to participate just to be in the presence of Coach Newton. Such a large team is a blessing and curse. Newton is able to spread his influence further but life lessons can go unheard when they have to trickle to so many ears. In the middle of the season, two of the star athletes are expelled from school after committing over $1 million in arson damage. The York team is forced to rebuild -- to face a true test of what they have learned both physically and mentally. The team is colorfully decorated with characters like the All-American winners the Dettman Twins, Sophomore John Fisher, a high functioning autistic with a heart of gold, out of shape former football players who reside on the lowest rung of the team and Freshman Connor Chadwick who has cerebral palsy but is able to run without leg braces for the first time in his life. The Long Green Line is not only a team but also, a rite of passage. It is a lifeline for these young runners as they move from adolescence to manhood.


THREE STARS Cross country isn't a glamor sport, but that doesn't mean you should run away from The Long Green Line. Cross country, which involves teams of runners traversing hill and dale for points, doesn't attract a lot of attention, but there are great stories to tell; this documentary is more about the people who run than about the sport in which they compete. Its focus is legendary coach Joe Newton and his York High School program, from neophyte freshmen recruited from the halls of the Elmhurst school to Newton, arguably the greatest high school coach in the country, regardless of sport. Former York students Matthew Arnold (producer/director) and Brady Hallongren (producer/director of photography) have captured the tumultuous 2005 season that led to (spoiler alert!) York's 25th state title. Along the way you watch Newton deal with the dismissal of two of his top runners for their involvement in an arson and see how the Dukes pull together to overcome adversity. Two of the show's biggest stars never scored a point for York High. Senior John Fisher, a high-functioning autistic teammate, and freshman Connor Chadwick, who has cerebral palsy, are inspirational. The road to another state championship is compelling, but more interesting is Newton's relationship with the team as a whole, whether they be top runners Matt and Eric Dettmen or Group Six runners the slowest of the slow. The Long Green Line& shows that cross country at York, which now has 26 state titles, is more than just championships. --Reid Hanley, Chicago Tribune

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Joe Newton, Matt Dettman, Eric Dettman, John Fisher, Connor Chadwick
  • Directors: Matthew Arnold
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: LGL Productions, LLC
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,327 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Over his more than 50 years as coach of the boy's cross country team at York, Joe Newton's teams have won 26 State Championships and 20 National Championships. Although some of his coaching is controversial, since his top runners are putting in up to 130 miles per week, there is no arguing with Coach Newton's results.

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.
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Comment 5 of 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I have to offer a slightly dissenting view on this movie. Yes, it's an enjoyable feel-good story of hard-working young athletes and the respected elder coach who leads them. The runners and the coach are likable and it's fun to root for them. But something is missing.

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.
Comment 19 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Likely few sports fans or many people at all have ever heard of Joe Newton, yet the guy may be one of the greatest coaches in the history of American sports. "The Long Green Line" chronicles a season in the life of the York High School (Elmhurst, IL) cross country team, coached by Joe Newton. Newton has 50+ years of coaching experience and over 25 Illinois state Cross country championships to his credit.

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!
Comment 9 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By E. Pieper on January 21, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I loved this movie. I am a runner. I even ran Girls Cross Country at York H.S. many moons ago. But you don't need to be a runner to benefit from this man's wisdom and spirt. Joe Newton is a legend! He inspires not only runners but all people to be their best self.

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!!!
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