‘The Miracle Season’

Has anyone else seen The Miracle Season, yet? I’m certainly no movie critic but I definitely wanted to see a movie that has volleyball at the center of it. My wife and I went last night and I forgot to give her a heads up on the storyline. So, when Caroline Found drives off on the moped and my wife realizes what is about to happen, I felt the daggers at the side of my head. As a rule we avoid the tear jerker movies and The Miracle Season certainly classifies as one. It didn’t help that Caroline was a setter who wore number 9 (the same as our daughter).

For this post I really wanted to focus on the volleyball aspects of the movie. Part of this is tough, because this is a movie based on real events so I really don’t want to be negative about anything. As a former volleyball parent, the events surrounding this movie are certainly a worst nightmare scenario, and to see how the team, coaches, school and city rallied from this nightmare is truly uplifting. With that said…

As a parent of a setter, the setting scenes were painful to watch. I understand the number of actresses within the age range needed that possess volleyball skills at a high school championship level are probably non-existent in Hollywood. Still, this generated a number of eye rolls between my wife and me throughout the movie. Most of the volleyball action scenes dealing with the primary actors became close-ups that really takes the sport of volleyball from the movie. I understand why this had to happen, but it still was distracting. The serves were also interesting as it looked like a couple of times the toss and arm swing would lead to a ball that barely reaches the net only to see the ball hit the back corner. All of this is understandable and, to better humans than myself, it won’t impact how they view the film.

I did find it curious why Hollywood needed to change an already wonderful story by altering how the matches were played out. We are told the team needs to win their last 15 matches to go to State (after not winning a single match all year that included a number of forfeits). In reality the West team finished the year 39-6. West is show playing Iowa City in the finals and being the underdog after losing to them earlier in the year (with Caroline playing). In real-life, West won their in-season match 3-1. The thing that really blew my mind was how the finals were presented to us, which show West being blown out by Iowa City in the first two sets. I forget the specifics but it was something like 9-25 and 14-25. The movie will then pan to the scoreboard, however, and there you can see the actual scores of the real life event. Set one went 23-25 and set two went 27-29! Then to top it off, the 5th set goes 16-14 but in real-life (and as shown on the scoreboard) the game finished 18-16. I’m sorry, is it a better story line to show the team blown out in the first two sets then losing heartbreakingly? And then why have a scoreboard that shows the score of all of the sets played in the match with scores different than what you tell us they were?

As to the core of the movie and the message, it’s all wonderful. Getting a glimpse into the pain suffered by this community and how they responded is a reward for your soul. With that said, I can’t help but believe (through what I’ve read) that the real story was actually better than how Hollywood depicted it.

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