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We are Family Documentary Update #2: February 2 – New Complications and Costs and the hard work of Creativity

Making a full length documentary is supposed to be easy, right? I’m learning the hard way, by real life experience, just how much work it really is. Here’s my second update on the making of the “We are Family” documentary about an inner city basketball team that against all odds won the Indiana state basketball championship.

New Complications

I could go into a number of complications that we’ve run into, but let me share just one. David Lichty, my video editor, discovered some videos of Arsenal Tech basketball in the Indiana State tournament dating back to the 1950’s and 1970’s that would be great B-roll footage for the movie.

IHSAA footage

He also found the 2014 Championship Game at Banker’s life fieldhouse that Tech won.

IHSAA footage 2

We have footage of this game too, but it is court side footage that Julian and other players recorded from the bench during the game. When he researched the footage on You Tube it turns out to be owned by the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA).

State Championship Game 1

So I contacted IHSAA to see if we could use their videos, and was put in contact with Chris Kaufman of IHSAA who apparently works with this kind of thing. Here’s what I learned.

It turns out that any recording of an IHSAA game, including video taken on a personal device, is the property of IHSAA. This is not a problem when that video is used for non-commercial reasons, like a parent shooting video of their kids playing that they’ll watch at home. But as soon as the video is used for commercial purposes, it must go through a process of approval through IHSAA, requires and contract which includes compensation to IHSAA. Chris told me that the biggest contract IHSAA has worked out is with the movie Hoosiers. Hoosiers used old footage from the State Championship game that Milan won.

I told Chris that at this point we are just trying to make the movie, and don’t have any deals lined up to sell the movie, etc. So he worked out a two part contract with us: (1) We pay IHSAA $500 for the use of their footage to complete the movie and show it. (2) There will be a second contract required if we plan to sell the movie in the future. In this scenario, IHSAA would ask for a percentage of any compensation we receive for the movie.

If this were all, no big deal. But it gets more complicated.

In the first contract to just use their footage we are required to have Movie Insurance.

Insurance

I get why IHSAA requires movie insurance. But I am WAY OVER MY HEAD in figuring this out. I guess this is why I have Jeff Sparks a consultant on this project.

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So you can see how one thing – in this case our request to use IHSAA video – becomes a much bigger, complicated thing. I’ll probably need to hire a lawyer with experience in the Movie Industry to read these contracts and make sure that everything is straight.

And this leads me to my next point.

New Costs

As we keep pressing forward, new costs keep adding up. Here are some of the new costs that I did not account for in the 25K we raised to make this movie:

  • $500 for the use of IHSAA video
  • ??? for Movie Insurance
  • $1,500 to hire a lawyer on retainer

These new costs are not the end of the world. But we are a low-budget operation. I’ve looked into a couple of options to raise a little more money. So far, no luck. I’ll keep trying, and we’ll see what happens.

In the end, no matter the cost, I’m committed to making this movie. This inspiring story is worth telling!

Championship

The Hard Work of Creativity

Creativity is hard work. We often think of creativity happening in a moment of inspiration. And I suppose it does occasionally. But, for the most part, it is just hard work. It is putting in time. It is collaborating. It is feedback. It is grind.

For example, my son Julian spent hours going through playoff game footage and noting what were the best plays, the best footage. You can see his work in the chart below. The red stands for footage that should NOT be used; yellow stands for OK footage that can be used; and green stands for GREAT footage that needs to be used.

In preparing for this next step of the documentary process, my son Julian encouraged me to watch the film “More than a Game” that tells the story of Lebron James and his friends that played AAU and high school basketball together. The film covers about 8 years, so it is a little different than what we are trying to do. I really enjoyed watching the movie. I and thought they did a great job in telling the story. Learning from others is all part of the creative process too.

In the end, making a high quality documentary is just hard work. We have over eight hours of footage that needs to be trimmed down to a 3 hour “uncut” version of the documentary, and then trimmed down one more time to about 1.5 hours of the final version of the documentary. But in the end, telling this story of a team that inspired a city will be worth it!

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Kickstarter Campaign: 20 Day Report and Wrapping up Interviews

Kickstarter

We are twenty days into the thirty day Kickstarter campaign.  We are blown away that over 16K has been pledged by 58 backers. We are 64% of the way towards reaching our 25K goal. But we still have a long way to go and an uphill climb.

It has been so encouraging and so humbling to see who has stood with us in this project by making a pledge. My family has rallied. Many of my friends in Indy – both my old church and IPS families –  have stepped up to help too, which makes my heart sing. And then there are the people I don’t know who have eagerly supported the project. Their trust and support is humbling.

We have had one MAJOR gift of 5K. There have been five PRODUCER level gifts of $1,000 (or more). And then lots of smaller gifts ranging from $1 – $400. Popular pledge sizes are $40 and $100. The reward for a $100 pledge is the digital “uncut” version of the movie, where we will be able to share much more of the footage than we will for the final version of the movie.

The way Kickstarter works is “all or nothing.” If we hit our goal of raising 25K, we will receive the money that has been pledged. If we do not hit our goal, we won’t receive any money at all. The last day of our Kickstarter campaign in December 1st. We still have $9,000 to raise. So we are in the last push.

If you would like to support the project go to this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jasondorsey/we-are-family-0?ref=user_menu

Wrapping up interviews in Indianapolis

Last week we wrapped up interviews in Indianapolis.  Director Jason Dorsey spent 2.5 days in Indy working with his video production crew, David Lichty and Tremayne Reed, to film the interviews.

November Trip 3

They also got some good B-roll footage.

The interviews were absolutely amazing!

Here is the interview lineup:

Tuesday, November 13 

  • Shaun Richardson, Player on the Tech championship team
  • Victor Bush, Tech/IPS Athletic Director (during the State Championship season)
  • Dr. Michael Brown, IPS Board Member (during the State Championship season)
  • Michael Woodson, Tech alumni, grandfather of Tech players Jerome Campbell and Jeremie Tyler
  • Mikey Jones, Tech basketball Player
  • Leo Williams, Tech basketball player
  • Terry Loux, Tech Alumni. He scouted 16 games for the State Champion Tech Titan team.

 

Wednesday, November 14

  • In the morning we filmed around the Tech neighborhood and at Arsenal Tech HS.
  • Then we drove up to Lebanon and interviewed John Sexson, brother of Joe Sexson who played for the 1952 Tech team who made it to the state championship game and lost to Muncie Central.
  • Donte Gladney Jr, Tech basketball player; and we got Mike Jones for a second round of interviews.

 

Thursday, November 15

  • Jamie Wolf, who was the athletic trainer during the Championship season.
  • Jeremie Tyler, Tech basketball player.
  • Devon Mickens, Tech basketball player.

 

All of the interviews were amazing and it is impossible to single any of them out. But Thursday’s interviews were special, and pretty much nailed out story down. The biggest challenge the video production team now faces is what to cut!

During a break on Thursday Jason asked David to give a plug for the movie and the Kickstarter campaign. Check it out.

One last thing. Early on Wednesday morning Jason was able to enjoy breakfast and catching up with three old friends from Indianapolis: Kipp N., Paul B. and Matt A. at Peppy’s.

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It was a whirlwind couple of days, but worth it in terms of the amazing footage we got.

We are family

            For all the urban schools that struggle with bad press

            For all the urban youth that are told you can’t do this

            For all the urban teachers and administrators whose stories are never told

            For Tech High School

            For Indianapolis Public Schools

 

 

Jason and Jenny Dorsey tried education reform in Indy before it became a popular political project

By Russ Pulliam, Associate Editor for The Indianapolis Star, director of the Pulliam Fellowship

Russel Pulliam

“Jason and Jenny Dorsey tried education reform in Indy before it became a popular political project.

A young pastor, Jason and his family checked out the Indianapolis Public Schools not long after 9/11. With four children, they had other options, including the new Oaks Academy. With classical curriculum and racial balance, it was popular in the Redeemer PCA congregation where he had become pastor near downtown Indianapolis in an area that was attracting an influx of middle class families.

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They wondered if could all the bad things they heard about the city’s public schools could be that bad?

Students would get into fights. Teachers sometimes didn’t care and just showed up for work. IPS buildings were in poor shape. Students dropped out too easily. Too many parents didn’t care or were too young to discern how to care.

The Dorseys found another side of the IPS story. Jenny became PTA president at their children’s elementary school. She befriended teachers, principals and Superintendent Eugene White. Jason volunteered as a lunchroom supervisor at Tech High School. Then he became a baseball coach there and led a petition drive for capital improvements. They called their little group IPS Renewal. They thought Indianapolis could never be truly world class without excellence in IPS.

Elizabeth Odle was principal at IPS 14. She balanced love and discipline as families moved often and students brought the challenges of broken homes.

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When some of the Dorsey children were at Tech, the basketball team started to dominate the way city schools did back in the 1950s and 1960s. Tech took the school’s first state championship, in class 4A, in 2014, with a 27-2 record. The team won off-court victories, with an average GPA of 3.2. Star player Trey Lyles won the Trester Award for character and now plays for the Denver Nuggets.

 The Dorsey family has since moved back to their Seattle roots. They look back at IPS as a success for their family. Jason and some friends are finishing a documentary on the season, We Are Family, highlighting the ups and downs of the 2013-14 season.

With a kickstarter campaign, they hope to raise $25,000 to finish the film, using clips that Dorsey and others saved up from the season.

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Basketball is just a game, even in Indiana. For Tech High School, though, that championship season was a big off-court victory. They played in the Hoosiers film tradition of the underdog, yet not in a 1950s small country school. Their season showed that big city schools can overcome the obstacles of racial division, urban poverty and broken families and win championships in life.”

You can learn more about and support Sunnyshore Studio’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the completion of the We are Family Documentary by clicking on this link here:

Will you Stand with Me? I need your help to tell a story

I Need your help

Will you stand with me? I need your help to complete a documentary film that is scheduled to be released in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 23, 2019, called We Are Family. Specifically, I need your help to make the story come alive through financing a sound track and final video production costs.

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Why the story should be told

Racial divides continue in our nation. But in the darkness of division there are stories of hope. The We Are Family documentary tells the inspiring story of how a basketball team from an urban school in the heart of Hoosier basketball country united around an impossible dream, how they forged a bond as family and how they inspired a whole community.

After Arsenal Tech High School in downtown Indianapolis won the Indiana High School Basketball Championship in March 2014, Bob Kravitz, a journalist for the Indianapolis Star wrote:

 “Landmark State Title proves inspiration to entire Tech community”

“From the time they are young, these kids who attend Indianapolis Public Schools are told they can’t. Parents try, teachers try, mentors try to lift them up and out of their circumstances, but the lowly graduation rates at schools such as Arsenal Tech do not lie, nor does the alarming drop-out rate.

On Saturday night at Bankers Life, though, the talented and composed young men of Arsenal Tech believed they could do something very special, something that hasn’t been done since Broad Ripple earned the IPS’ last state title in 1980. And they did, knocking off Lake Central, 63-59, winning the Class 4A state title, showing everybody, yes, they could.

Sixty years ago this week, Milan won one for all those small schools.

Saturday night, Tech won one for all the schools and the students who have been told they aren’t good enough to ascend the greatest heights.

Remember the Titans.”

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We Are Family remembers the Titans by telling the story of that season. It explores the impact of this victory on the lives of the players, coaches, school and Indianapolis Public School community five years later. It proves that the relationships that are built when a team comes together as a family really do endure.

I believe that this story is important because it tells the truth about what happened – and what can happen – in inner city schools.  I know this personally. For thirteen years our family lived in Indy we were a part of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). Our kids attended IPS schools. And the IPS community became a family to us. This is my way of saying “thanks” to and standing in solidarity with IPS.

 

I’ve been working on this project for the last four years. Now I need your help to raise $25,000 to pay for a sound track and final video production costs to bring the project to completion. Will you help me tell this story?

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Kickstarter Campaign Costs and rewards 

To raise $25,000, I am launching a Kickstarter “crowd-funding” campaign on November 1st, 2018. The way Kickstarter works is that people sponsor a creative project through an on-line donation and receive a reward in return. If the project meets its goal that money will be debited. If the project does not meet its goal then that money is not debited. In other words, it is all or nothing!

Budget for the WE ARE FAMILY Kickstarter project

  •  $ 8,000 Musicians/Composers
  • $ 2,000 Sound Track Mix/Mastering
  • $1,000 Documentary Trailer
  • $7,500 Video editing
  • $3,250 Production Costs
  • $ 2,000 Rewards Cost for art prints, shipping and handling, etc.
  • $1,250 Kickstarter Percentage, 5%

 

Rewards for giving to the WE ARE FAMILY Kickstarter project

  •  Friends who support this project at $10 will receive a digital version of the sound track.
  • Friends who support this project at $40 will receive a digital version of the movie.
  • Friends who support this project at $100 will receive a digital version of the “uncut” movie: bloopers, extra footage, etc.

 

  • Patrons who support this project at $200, $400, $600 and $800 get to choose a beautiful print of one of two of my brother Jed’s paintings – either “The Golden Hour” or “Good Morning Indy”.[i]

 

  • Producers who support this project at or above $1,000 will receive the following:
    • Named in the credits of We are Family as a Producer.
    • Invitation to a VIP documentary release party in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019
    • Public thanks at the release of the documentary in Indianapolis, March 23rd, 2019.

 

  • Mega-Producers who support this project at or above $5,000 will receive all of the above plus:
    • A week long (7 days) stay at Sunnyshore Studio on beautiful Camano Island.[ii]
    • (Optional) An Identity Discovery Session and Five Life Coaching[iii] sessions with Jason Dorsey.

 

The Team

I’ve assembled a great team of video editors/producers and musicians/composers to complete the documentary. I want to tell the story in a way that packs a punch.  I’m thrilled that some of the contributors are IPS and Arsenal Tech alumni.

 Two ways you can stand with us

Here are two ways that you can stand with us in bringing this story to completion:

  1. Contribute to the Kickstarter Campaign: On November 1st I will share the link to our Kickstarter campaign. Any amount of support helps!
  1. Advocate for the Kickstarter Campaign: Advocate for the project when the 30 day Kickstarter campaign launches on Nov. 1 by:
  • sending a personal e-mail/text to five friends with the kickstarter link asking them to stand with us in this project.
  • sharing the kickstarter project on your social media platforms.

 Thanks for standing with us on this project!

We are Family is being produced by Sunnyshore Studio: www.sunnyshorestudio.com

You can learn more about our project here:

[i] Jed is a full-time artist who lived in Indy and was a big fan during that Championship season. He is offering us prints of these two paintings at his cost. To learn more about Jed and his art: www.Jeddorseyart.com

[ii]Sunnyshore Studio is located on Camano Island, in Washington State. Learn more here:  www.sunnyshorestudio.com

[iii] In his work as a Presbyterian pastor, Jason Dorsey has developed a curriculum that helps people understand their identity and step boldly into their calling. It is called “Identity Mapping”. The Identity Discovery Session is a two hour session where Jason listens to your story and helps you name your Identity. In the Life Coaching sessions  he helps you identify your roles and responsibilities in each sphere of your calling:  personal, family, work, community and place and coach you

The Story Behind the Making of the Documentary “We are Family”, Part 2

By Jason Dorsey

Read Part 1 here: The story of the making of the “We are Family” documentary (Part 1)

Part 2

In August of 2013, I started taking video footage of the Arsenal Tech High School basketball team. I’m not trained in videography, but I was passionate about getting as much footage as possible and my job as a pastor was flexible, allowing me to be present at most of the games and many of the practices. More importantly, my son Julian was on the JV basketball team, and he was able to capture footage that I couldn’t get.

One of the first things Julian filmed was Coach Jason Delaney’s pre-season speech. He emphasized the conditioning that would start in the fall, the importance of the players character, the expectation that the players would volunteer in community service projects, the goal of building of a basketball “program” at Tech rather than just building a good team, and this being the “Final Act”, the senior’s last chance to win it all.

Julian filmed the team serving as volunteers at the Monumental Marathon. On the bus ried there he took footage of one of the players, Justin Parker “JP”, singing to a Drake song. The team had lots of fun with that.

Julian also interviewed Mikey and took other footage of the team having fun with the gals from Tech’s girl’s basketball team.

This is just a snapshot of all the behind-the-scenes footage we shot. It would probably be a surprise to a lot of people just how much community service the Tech Titans championship basketball team did!

One of the first things I did was to interview the coaches: Besides the head Coach Jason Delaney there was Coach Eric Klinefelt who was known as “Coach K”; Coach Jamal Smith, who worked for the government and also with the guards, Coach Raymond Batts who coached the JV team, Coach Dabney who led the freshman team and also helped out at the varsity level. And Coach Tom Lyles, Trey’s dad. I remember asking Coach Lyles if he had to choose between the team winning state or being a team-of-character which he would choose. After a pause, he answered that he would choose being a team of character. I also filmed parents and grandparents and got their perspective on the upcoming season.

We shot a lot of pre-season footage. I regularly filmed the 70+ student-athletes who were showing up for conditioning. Then the season officially began and the team could begin to practice together.

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I remember filming waking my son Julian up for the first practice. It was held at 6:00am, with a second practice later after school. I woke Julian up at 5:14am with the camera running.  Julian was not pleased that I was filming him waking up and all groggy and stuff and let me know it. The footage is pretty funny, but I doubt it will make its way into the documentary.  Maybe we’ll stick it in the Bloopers section though.

Here’s a couple of pictures from that first day of practice.

I filmed lots of the practices and captured some special moments like when Tech’s star player, Trey Lyles, talked about each of the other players on the team.

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Trey spoke highly of all of his teammates: Jeremie Tyler, a senior who could jump out of the gym, who was an exceptional outside shooter and who could get to the rim; Mikey Jones, a senior and gifted zone breaker who was clutch in big games; Justin Parker, a transfer from Northwest High School and another senior, who was a gifted two-way wing;  Rawshan Richardson, another senior who had great jumping ability, who ran the court well and who would end up getting lots of dunks that year; Demetrius Shaw, a senior and one of the toughest guys around, who played power forward; John Roberts, a senior and transfer from Pike High School, who had great handles and was a good shooter. There were two other seniors on this team who were brought along for their leadership, hard work, and as a tribute to their participation in the program: Jason Beck and Devin Mickens. CJ Walker, a sophomore, was a team captain and starter as point guard. He was the playmaker. Then there were the two juniors, Donteau Gladney, Jr. who was an amazing defensive stopper and whose dad is one of my best friends; and Eric Meeks, a left-handed shooting guard who was fast, athletic and played hard. Tech was stacked.

Then the season started. We filmed it all. Tech won their first game against Warren Central. Then lost their second to Bowman Academy, in a packed house in Gary, IN. My mom and dad were in town, and we had spent Thanksgiving with friends in Chicago. We caught the game on the way back from Indy from Chicago. It started at least 1.5 hours after the scheduled start time. I wonder if that had anything to do with Tech’s loss to Bowman. The next two games where at the Marshall County Hoop Fest where Tech beat the top ranked team in Kentucky, Louisville Ballard, and the third ranked team in the country, Huntington Prep. Beating Huntington Prep was a turning point of the season.

In game five of the season, Tech beat their nemesis Cathedral by a big margin. Then there was the Huntington Prep game at Tech that was broadcast live on ESPN. Actor Mike Epps, a Tech Alumni, was at that game. Lot’s of alumni came back for that game. The team was so pumped after they won. We got great video of them dancing in the locker room afterwards. They were hyped!

Next Tech beat Evansville North. Then at the Indianapolis Public Schools Athletic Conference (IPSAC) Showcase, Tech beat Marion High School, featuring James Blackmon Jr., who was a terrific player. Next they beat Evansville Bosse, then La Porte La Lumiere, a nationally ranked team, with junior Jalen Coleman, who my son Julian had played with on the eighth grade basketball team at Crispus Attucks.Their next victory came against Lake Central, who Tech would meet up with again in the State 4A Championship game. They beat them soundly.

Then there was the Indy Legacy Showcase game against Park Tudor. Trevon Bluitt of Park Tudor and Trey Lyles went back and forth, both having huge games. The game went into overtime with Tech eventually pulling ahead by Lyle’s free throw shooting. At the end of the season, Trey was named “Mr. Basketball” of Indiana just edging out Trevon. Lots of alumni were there for that game.

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Then Tech traveled to Paduca, KY, for the McCracken showcase and beat Cleveland St. Villa, the number one team in Ohio. Their fourteenth game of the season was against fellow IPS school Northwest which they handily won. Next came the Indianapolis City Tournament. Tech blew out Covenant Christian, won a hard-fought game against Howe, and then beat Cathedral in the championship game. That was a high another high point for the season. Tech was cruising, and overconfident.

Their second loss of the season came to Hamilton SE, who were ranked the number two team in Indiana. Tech came out flat, while Hamilton SE came out playing hard and firing on all pistons. The loss happened on Tech’s home court. It was a hard loss for the team, but good. It focused them on each upcoming game and strengthened their resolve to not lose again. They didn’t. The last three games of the season were victories against Pike, Zionsville on Senior night, and Ben Davis.

Julian and I not only took video footage at games, but we also captured pre-game speeches and fun, half-time footage, and locker room celebrations after the games. We talked to fans and family, coaches’ wives and their kids, players and students.

As we traveled with the team and talked with those who surrounded them and cheered them on through the season, one phrase was repeated again and again by the coaches and players: “We are family.”

“We are family” symbolized the season. It described how the coaches and players had each other’s backs, that they were going to stick together through thick and thin. But it came to symbolize more than just team-as-family. As the magical season unfolded, more and more Tech students and alumni, teachers and administrators, friends and family, started coming to the games. As the buzz about this team grew, the larger “Tech family” rallied around them. The stands were packed for their games.

Landon Turner was one of the Tech family who rallied to the team. Landon was a past Tech basket star who had played one season at Indiana University player before his back was broken in a car accident, derailing his basketball career. Coach Delaney arranged for Landon to meet with the players. He spoke to them about the importance of what they represented to their families, to Tech, and to the Indianapolis community. He called for them to be the team to finally lead Tech to the State Championship.

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The “Tech family” was excited about this Titan team. But no one foresaw how they would inspire the whole Indianapolis Public School family, and, eventually, the entire city.

 

We are Family Documentary

Racial divides continue in America. But in the darkness of this division, there are stories of hope.

Tech 09

Sunnyshore Studio is working on a documentary called We Are Family that will tell the inspiring story of how a basketball team from an urban school in the heart of Hoosier basketball country came together around a common dream of winning the state basketball tournament, how they fought through personal and team challenges, how they forged a bond as family, and how they rallied a whole community around them.

After the Titans won the Championship Game in March, 2014, Indy Star Reporter, Bob Kravitz wrote an article that reflected on the meaning of the victory.

“Landmark State Title proves inspiration to entire Tech community” 

“From the time they are young, these kids who attend Indianapolis Public Schools are told they can’t. Parents try, teachers try, mentors try to lift them up and out of their circumstances, but the lowly graduation rates at schools such as Arsenal Tech do not lie, nor does the alarming drop-out rate.

 On Saturday night at Bankers Life, though, the talented and composed young men of Arsenal Tech believed they could do something very special, something that hasn’t been done since Broad Ripple earned the IPS’ last state title in 1980. And they did, knocking off Lake Central, 63-59, winning the Class 4A state title, showing everybody, yes, they could.

 Sixty years ago this week, Milan won one for all those small schools.

Saturday night, Tech won one for all the schools and the students who have been told they aren’t good enough to ascend the greatest heights.

 Remember the Titans.”

We Are Family will explore the impact of this victory on the lives of the players, coaches, school and IPS community four years later. In it we ask, “did that victory matter?”  And we hear a resounding: YES!

We look forward to sharing this story with you that proves that the relationships that are built when a team comes together as a family really do matter and endure.

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