Athletes’ Favorite Sports Movies


Photo credit: Ren Rader

Typically, the Trinitonian reports on athletes’ thoughts on games or their statistics and performances. However, since sports are on somewhat of a hiatus this semester, I have the unique opportunity to learn more about our student-athletes personally and see what their likes and dislikes are. This week, we take a look at our athletes’ favorite sports movies.

Movies can serve all kinds of purposes. They can provide a reprieve, giving someone a couple of hours of joy and a chance to escape from every day worries. They can make social commentary, make you cry or laugh and even inspire you. Sports movies especially seem to leave profound impacts on people’s lives, from showing the power of teamwork to highlighting a team that shouldn’t win yet shocks the world.

The following movies have impacted players differently, from serious messaging to simply providing a laugh.

Photo credit: Ren Rader

illustration by Ren Rader

McFarland USA

Based on a true story, this movie is about a predominately Latino high school cross country team working to win the state championship with their new white coach.

Taylor Kotfas, a sophomore track member at Trinity, explains how influential and motivating this movie and its characters have been for her. During her high school state cross country meet, it began pouring rain in the freezing cold, but she thought back to the movie.

“I remember seeing the adverse conditions that these boys were facing- mentally, emotionally, and physically … well, I thought of that movie and what that team had to face. Then, I knew I could get through [the weather conditions], and I knew my team would be there with me,” Kotfas said.

She elaborates that this movie has also impacted how she views running and relates to her teammates.

“I would say it has definitely made me appreciate my team so much. I have always been super loving towards my teams throughout high school and college, but it is the connections that I saw in that movie that really made me realize how important these people are to me. They are my family. I would also say that this movie made me realize how much I love to run and how much competing means to me. It is so important to work hard, but it is also the heart that you put into everything,” Kotfas said.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

This comedy is about Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn), owner of Average Joe’s Gym, who must enter a dodgeball tournament to save his gym. He faces off against the high-end Globo-Gym, owned by White Goodman (Ben Stiller) accompanied by an unlikely group of underdogs.

“I like this movie because it’s hard not to root for an underdog. So while there are many other examples, in real life too, of an underdog emerging victorious, this one, in particular, stuck out in my mind due to the incredible acting performances and wacky characters. I think it’s not just funny, but an iconic film that helped set the tone for comedy to follow in the next decade,” said Neil Verwillow, senior men’s soccer player.

Verwillow has fond memories of watching Dodgeball whenever his family traveled and even entered in a dodgeball phase after watching it so much.

“I would attribute a lot of my competitive nature today from watching this and other movies like it. Nothing like an underdog story motivates you,” Verwillow said.

Friday Night Lights

This movie is about a small-town Texas high school football team looking to win the state championship. It shows the adversities faced by the players, coaches and families of the team whose lives revolve around football. If you live in Texas or like football, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this movie. Or perhaps you’ve read the book the movie is based on. Maybe you’ve seen the TV series adaptation. The point is, this is a classic story.

Annie Rose Leggett, senior volleyball player, explains that she loves this movie because it not only talks about football itself but also outlines many of the life struggles athletes experience while playing at a high-level. Friday Night Lights has served to motivate her and has informed her work ethic.

“They really emphasize the fact that it’ll never be easy to reach your end goal, whatever it may be, and I find that very true in personal experiences with playing volleyball. It also showed me how those experiences along the way are what will build character and make you better, which is something I definitely live by as I work towards my own goals,” Leggett said.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

This comedy is about the NASCAR superstar, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell), who loses it all after crashing during a race. After the devastating setback, Ricky must face off against his biggest competitor with the help of his friends and family.

Shamzi Alkaff, a senior on the men’s swimming and diving team, states that this is his favorite sports movie because of its ability to create laughs while sending a message.

“It combines comedy with sports and teaches many important life lessons. I remember watching this movie on my couch with my friends. I can recall us getting emotional throughout the movie because the story was so compelling. I laughed and cried throughout the movie but in the end, I rejoiced because the ending was so happy,” Alkaff said.

Talladega Nights, a movie filled with an endless amount of memorable quotes, taught Alkaff important lessons about family and perseverance.

“Ricky was at the lowest point of his life after his crash. He even got fired from being a pizza delivery driver. Even though Ricky’s father left him, he still taught him valuable lessons that helped Ricky on the road back to success,” Alkaff said.

While there are countless other sports movies out there, it was great hearing about students’ experiences with each of these movies. It’s clear that sports movies have the ability to make a mark on people’s lives well beyond the field.

If you find some free time any time soon between all your homework, club meetings and social distancing, make sure to watch these and see what all the fuss is about!