Posts Tagged ‘NCAA National Championship’

“I guess I’m still from the old school. Accountability, discipline and leaving here with a degree are things I think should never change.”
Kim Mulkey
Women’s basketball coach at Baylor University

Did you know that perfection has deep roots in Tangipahoa Parish? You know, down in Southern Louisiana. (Population 113,137.)

In the communities of Tickfaw, Hammond, and Natalbany is where Baylor girls basketball coach, Kim Mulkey, was raised. Last night as she led her Baylor Lady Bears to a National Championship they did something that no team in the history of NCAA basketball had ever done—gone undefeated the entire season and won a total of forty games.

Excellence has long been a part of Mulkey’s life. While at Hammond  High School she played on four state championship teams, graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and was the class valedictorian.  As a player at Louisiana Tech she was an All-American player and helped lead her team to a national championship in 1982. She then became an Olympic Gold medalist in 1984. She was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech where the girls basketball team won a national championship in 1988. According to USA Today, “She is the only woman to win NCAA championships as a player, an assistant and as a head coach.”

I know this is a blog on screenwriting, but it’s also about a sense of place. And about people coming from sometimes little known places who rise up and do amazing things. It’s about the process of getting better over time. Before Mulkey became a head coach she spent 15 years as an assistant. She earns a million dollars a year, and just a few days ago was named the Associated Press’ woman college basketball coach of the year. You could say she’s on a winning streak.

Congrats to Coach Mulkey and the entire Lady Bear team down in Waco.

BTW—If you’re ever down in the village of Tickfaw (pop. 617) there is a street there named Kim Mulkey Drive.

P.S. According to Wikipedia, “Tangipahoa comes from an Acolapissa word meaning ‘ear of corn’ or ‘those who gather corn.”

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Filmmaking in the Other LA

Scott W. Smith

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Photograph by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

“My bracket has Kansas winning the whole thing. Kansas is that big, fast, strong, deep, good, great, unbeatable.”
Gregg Dovel, CBSSports.com

President Obama was wrong. But he was not alone in picking the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA National Championship in men’s basketball this year. In case you don’t follow such things, Kansas lost yesterday to that little known team from right here in Cedar Falls, Iowa—The University of Northern Iowa (UNI).

One sports writer said the upset victory, “could go down as the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history.” Of course, that’s debatable. What is less debateable is this is the biggest victory in UNI’s history. This was the first time they have ever beaten a top ranked team. To do it in the NCAA Tournament before a national TV audience is all the sweeter.

The above photo of UNI player Ali Farokhmanesh celebrating says it all. It’s one frame that if it were the end of a movie the critics would be rolling their eyes calling it cliché. But movie audiences enjoy a good underdog story time after time. Why do we love underdog stories?

What is it about an underdog story that makes us feel so good? Perhaps it’s as simple as we all feel like underdogs. We can relate. Heck, I have a blog called Screenwriting from Iowa which might as well be called Screenwriting for Underdogs. But then again that would be redundant, wouldn’t it? (Tell me Joe “I’ve been in fights most of my life” Eszterhas hasn’t felt like an underdog his entire career?)

So screw the critics and keep writing underdog stories because the truth is cinematic history is full of great stories of underdog characters and underdog stories. From Rocky, Indiana Jones, and Norma Rae Webster to Hans Solo, Oskar Schindler, and Erin Brockovich they’re all underdogs that are greatly admired.

More recently, The Blind Side (based on the life of Michael Orr) found an audience to the tune of $250 million so far and landed Sandra Bullock her first Oscar. People still want to see Michael Orr stories. And, of course, an underdog doesn’t have to be an athlete.

Both James Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic are the #1 & #2 box office champs—and both underdog stories.

What are some of your favorite underdog characters or stories?

P.S. The University of Northern Iowa is where Kurt Warner played college football before he became one of the greatest underdog stories in contemporary sports history. I should also give a shout out to the University of Iowa’s wrestling team who last night won the 2010 NCAA Division 1 wrestling championship. No underdogs there—it’s the third straight year they’ve won the championship and 23rd in school history.

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Scott W. Smith

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