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When the Game Stands Tall (2014)

Starring Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis
based on the book 'When the Game Stands Tall' by Neil Hayes

Jim Caviezel
Born: September 26, 1968
Mount Vernon, Washington, USA
Bob Ladouceur
Born: July 3, 1954
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Position: Coach
Michael Chiklis
Born: August 30, 1963
Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Terry Eidson

Position: Assistant Coach (Defensive Coordinator)
Stephan James
Born: December 16, 1993
Toronto, Canada, USA
Terrance "T.K." Kelly
Born: April 23, 1986
Birthplace: Oakland, California, USA
Death: August 12, 2004, Richmond, California, USA (gunshot wounds)
Position: Outside Linebacker and Tight End
Adella Gautier
Born: January 15, 1948
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Bevelyn Kelly
Born: February 8, 1944
Death: October 7, 2004, Richmond, California, USA (heart failure)
Matthew Daddario
Danny Ladouceur
Born: May 5, 1987
Birthplace: Contra Costa, California, USA

Position: Wide Receiver
Ser'Darius Blain
Cameron "Cam" Colvin
Born: March 5, 1986
Birthplace: Pittsburg, California, USA

Position: Wide Receiver
It's not about the streak, or being the all-time winningest. I appreciate the benchmark and the recognition of the long haul and my hard work, but it's about being a positive part of so many young kids' lives. It's pretty humbling. -Bob Ladouceur, ESPN, September 2008

Questioning the Story:

When did Bob Ladouceur begin his coaching career?

In researching the When the Game Stands Tall true story, we discovered that Bob Ladouceur began coaching at De La Salle High School in Concord, California in 1979 when he was 24. The real De La Salle Spartans had only won one game during the season prior to when Bob Ladouceur came on board. Prior to taking the reigns at De La Salle, he had been an assistant coach at Monte Vista High School in Danville, California. It was around that time that Ladouceur worked briefly as a counselor at a juvenile hall. Watching the same kids returning over and over, it was there that he realized that he wanted to mold young people before they had a chance to veer in the wrong direction. -ESPN

Is Alexander Ludwig's character based on a real person?

No. "I play Chris Ryan, who is a fictional character," says actor Alexander Ludwig, "but this whole story is a factual one, and he's kind of been inspired by multiple people who've actually been in and out of De La Salle."

Running back Chris Ryan (right) and his father Mickey Ryan (left) are both fictional characters. They are portrayed by actors Alexander Ludwig and Clancy Brown, respectively.

How does Coach Bob Ladouceur feel about his life being portrayed on the big screen?

"A little uncomfortable. No, I'd say a lot uncomfortable," says Coach Ladouceur. The filmmakers and Ladouceur's close friends thought that it was a good story to tell, so why not let it be told. "I thought, sure, you know, I agree. I'm real proud of our kids and I'm proud of what we've done, so I was kinda, 'Okay, I'll bite my lip and let it go.'"

"I hope [the message] it sends is what is possible with high school and adolescent kids, or anybody that can come together and not care about who gets credit but is all-in on trying to accomplish something worthwhile." -When the Game Stands Tall Press Interview

Did Bob Ladouceur really have a heart attack?

Yes. The When the Game Stands Tall true story confirms that on New Year's Eve 2003, Bob Ladouceur went into full cardiac arrest. He had ignored symptoms earlier that season, chalking them up to indigestion. Despite eating healthy, exercising frequently, and avoiding alcohol, Ladouceur, unbeknownst to his players, had been a closet smoker. -When the Game Stands Tall Book

"I remember thinking right away how he had just lost his dad and I didn't want to lose mine," son Dan Ladouceur said in the days following his dad's heart attack. He was referring to the passing of his grandfather to cancer just two months earlier. "I mean, I couldn't ask for a better dad. He [has] to coach me my senior year and watch me play in college and see me get married and raise a family. It's amazing how much goes through your mind in a time like that."

The real Bob and Beverly "Bev" Ladouceur are pictured here walking their dogs as Bob recovers from his heart attack. Beverly Ladouceur, a physical education teacher at Stone Valley Middle School, also has experience with coaching. The couple is portrayed by Jim Caviezel and Laura Dern in the movie (inset).

Exactly how long did De La Salle's record winning streak last?

The longest winning streak in football history, dubbed "The Streak", began on September 11, 1992 with a 34-14 season-opening win over Merced High School. It ended twelve years and 151 games later against Bellevue on Saturday, September 4, 2004 in a 39-20 loss. Ladouceur later called the defeat the worst performance in the program's history. -When the Game Stands Tall Book

Did Chris Ryan's father really get mad and punch him after the game against Bellevue that ended De La Salle's winning streak?

No. As stated earlier, the When the Game Stands Tall true story revealed that Chris Ryan and his father Mickey are both fictional characters. "...I've never witnessed anyone hitting their kid in the parking lot," said Assistant Coach Terry Eidson. Mickey's obsession with his son breaking the touchdown record is also fictional.

Did a former De La Salle player really get shot?

Yes. Terrance Kelly was home visiting friends and family after spending much of his summer at the University of Oregon, the school he would be attending with three of his La Salle teammates, including Willie Glasper, Jackie Bates, and Cameron Colvin. Terrance was killed in a shooting after driving to a house to give a friend a ride home on August 12, 2004. After calling his friend to tell him that he was pulling up, his friend walked out the door less than a minute later to discover Terrance had been shot in his car. Terrance's father Landrin and grandmother Bevelyn, who had raised him as her own, rushed to the scene. His grandmother collapsed of a heart attack. She recovered to attend Terrance's funeral, but she passed away less than two months later. Initially, the police had no motive and zero suspects. -When the Game Stands Tall Book

Terrance Kelly and his grandmother Bevelyn Kelly together at a De La Salle football game (right) before their deaths in 2004. Left: Terrance (Stephan James) and his grandmother "T-Gram" (Adella Gautier) in the When the Game Stands Tall movie.

A fifteen-year-old boy was eventually taken into custody and charged with Terrance Kelly's murder. The motive was apparently a standing grudge held by the boy, the result of a perceived slight during a pickup basketball game the year prior, which is depicted in the movie.

The day of Terrance's funeral was the day that he was supposed to put on a University of Oregon uniform and practice for the first time. At the service, De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur gave the eulogy (you can read it in the When the Game Stands Tall book) and Willie Glasper's mom Joyce read a letter that Terrance had included with his college application.

Throughout my life I have been faced with several challenges which could have potentially disrupted my education. Luckily, I have developed the necessary skills to confront and overcome these circumstances. One circumstance that I have had to overcome was to stay focused in an environment which has not always been conducive to obtaining a solid education.

Many people imagine the life of a teenager as being carefree and simple, but that is not the case in the city I live in. While growing up in Richmond, California, there have been a lot of distractions. For example, the murder rate of young African Americans is very high, drugs are rampant in the community, and not very many youth in the community understand the importance of education, much less if they live or die.

Many youth place more importance on being in a gang than an education. A large number of the youth don't even graduate from high school. They drop out, go to jail, or unfortunately get murdered. Something as simple as sitting down and doing your homework can be a challenge. While trying to study I have often had to contend with hearing gunshots and ambulances or police cars racing up and down the streets. The library is just a shelter for the homeless and a baby sitter for young children waiting until their parents get off of work.

Through all of this I have established high expectations and standards for myself. I am determined not to end up like so many of my peers. I have a strong sense of purpose and direction in my life. I am motivated to strive to be the best person I can be, with the understanding that a solid education can lead to self-improvement as well as social and economic empowerment.

Actor Jim Caviezel (as Coach Ladouceur) delivers the eulogy in the When the Game Stands Tall movie (left), and the real Coach Bob Ladouceur gives the eulogy at Terrance Kelly's funeral on August 18, 2004 (right).

Did the De La Salle team really take a field trip to a veterans rehabilitation center?

No. Though a good fit for the themes of service and brotherhood expressed in the movie, the real De La Salle Spartans 2004 team never visited a VA rehab center. Assistant coach Terry Eidson believes this scene was inspired by an event that took place during a trip to Hawaii for a road game in 2002. While there, he took some of the players to visit a Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu, Hawaii. -When the Game Stands Tall book

Did the De La Salle players really fill out commitment cards?

Yes. The commitment cards are a tradition at De La Salle and are still in practice today. Players write down an expectation or commitment that they plan on making to the team -- to return a kick for a touchdown, to make an interception, to block a punt. During chapel visits, players then reveal the promises on their commitment cards.

Tayshon Lanear, the character with the big ego, is fictional.
Is the show-off Tayshon Lanear based on a real De La Salle player?

No. The player in the movie who has a big ego and struggles to understand the definition of team, Tayshon Lanear (Jesse Usher), is a fictional character meant to represent the general attitude of some of the players on the 2004 team.

Did a player really get yelled at for somersaulting into the end zone?

Yes. However, the Long Beach Poly game took place in 2001, not 2004 like in the movie, and it was a junior named Maurice Drew who performed the somersault into the end zone, not the movie's fictional senior Chris Ryan. The true story behind When the Game Stands Tall reveals that Maurice Drew's somersault resulted in him being flagged for an excessive celebration penalty. As stated in the When the Game Stands Tall book, Coach Ladouceur did tell him that they were not a celebrating team, but it happened when they got home, not on the sidelines.

Does Bob Ladouceur believe that faith and football should be part of the same team?

Yes. In a somewhat secular society that has tried to remove faith from schools and related school activities, including football, Bob Ladouceur believes the opposite. "I think that's an easy question," says Ladouceur. "When does faith and anything not come together? I mean, you carry your faith everywhere, and you can't take it off like your shirt or anything like that. It's a part of you.

So, [Assistant Coach] Terry and I have always believed that wherever we're going or whatever we do, we carry our faith with us and try to act from that as best we can, our faith beliefs. Football is no different. People look at it and say, 'Hey, that's an anomaly or that's strange.' I've never thought about it that way and I don't think Terry ever did either." De La Salle's motto, which appears on the school crest, is "Les Hommes De Foi", or "Men Of Faith". -When the Game Stands Tall Press Interview

Did the players really walk out onto the field holding hands?

Yes. Like in the movie, the De La Salle Spartans walked out onto the field for games in pairs holding hands. This is briefly shown in this clip from the Perfect Effort documentary. Another tradition that is true to the movie is the players sliding head first into the end zone after winning a championship.

Did they really pray together the day before each game?

Yes. During our exploration into the true story behind When the Game Stands Tall, we learned that the day before every game the coaches and players would pray together and have reflection. -EWTN

The real De La Salle Spartans pray before a game (top), and Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) leads the Spartans in prayer in the movie (bottom).

What actually happened during the chapel sessions?

"Well, we'd usually start out with a song," says Coach Ladouceur, "and then a requirement was that they had to bring in a New Testament scripture piece that they'd have to speak to, and then some other motivational reading that they'd have to bring also, and once those were presented by the kids, they had to tell what it meant to them or why they brought those or why they chose them and then we opened it up to the whole team for discussion."

"It was real powerful," adds Ladouceur. "It's something that you get to do away from the field. A lot of it has nothing to do with football and it's consistent with what our school does and in the classroom. So, we wanted to infuse that into our team also." -EWTN

Did the De La Salle coaches really encourage players to share their emotional life during team meetings?

"Yes," says former De La Salle head coach Bob Ladouceur. "It was important because we want those kids to know that there's people there to support them, and there are people that will always be there for them, and it's a safe environment to do that. It's okay to open up and tell how you're feeling, and it's okay to open up and tell your fears or your triumphs and share it with other people. Everybody's there to help them and everyone's there to support." The sharing was usually done during the chapel sessions. -EWTN

Does the real Coach Bob Ladouceur think that the movie is accurate?

"The only thing that was really not historic was the sequence of events," says the real Bob Ladouceur. "They kind of took three years and condensed it into one. But they mostly took everything from our '04 season and our transition from our '03 to '04 season, which was the murder of Terrance Kelly. I also had a heart attack that offseason."

Bob Ladouceur (left) and Jim Caviezel (right) meet for the first time on the set of When the Game Stands Tall.

Do the De La Salle High School Spartans hold the record for the longest winning streak in the history of American high school sports?

Not exactly. At 151 games, the De La Salle Spartans hold the record for the longest winning streak in American high school football, but not high school sports in general. The Passaic High School boys basketball team in Passaic, New Jersey won 159 games from 1919-1925, and the girls basketball team in Baskin, Louisiana won 218 games from 1947-1953. However, it can be argued that such streaks in basketball are easier to achieve since more games are played in a shorter period of time, resulting in things like players leaving the team due to graduation being less of a factor.

Did Coach Bob Ladouceur really retire after 399 wins?

Yes. In a poetic manner that took the praise off himself, something that he always stressed to his players, De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur retired after achieving 399 wins. The then 58-year-old made the announcement during a press conference on January 4, 2013. "I would probably still be coaching if I didn't have the perfect guy to take over," Ladouceur said of 33-year-old Justin Alumbaugh, a former player. Ladouceur coached the De La Salle High School Spartans for 34 seasons.

It should be noted that Bob Ladouceur did not leave the De La Salle program entirely. He still helps to coach the running backs, and he can still be seen on the sidelines on Friday nights.

Why didn't Bob Ladouceur ever coach at a higher level?

"I've never really considered college coaching," says Ladouceur. "My strength is in teaching. Plus, I have a feel for the physics and geometry of the game, and see how it applies on the field. I saw the difference between high school and college. College is a job. High school is about teaching and the joy of the game."

Ladouceur says that he was offered the head coaching job at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California, and he was also approached about interviewing for the staff at Stanford. In addition to coaching at De La Salle, Ladouceur also served as a religious studies teacher at the school. -ESPN

Like Jim Caviezel's character in the When the Game Stands Tall movie (left), the real Coach Bob Ladouceur (right) did turn down a job offer from Stanford.

Bob Ladouceur Interviews, Speeches & Related Video

To learn more about the When the Game Stands Tall true story, watch a short De La Salle High School football documentary, in addition to an interview with the real Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson.

 Bob Ladouceur Locker Room Speech

Listen to De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur's locker room speech that he gave to his players the day before their game against Mater Dei High School in 2000. He talks about truly discovering who you are when faced with adversity and realizing that you are not alone in making that discovery. You are part of a team and you are all facing the same challenge. Like in the movie, the players can be seen holding hands as they head out to the field.

 De La Salle High School Football Documentary

This De La Salle documentary takes a closer look at the school, the coach, the team and what makes them so successful. The subdued atmosphere at the school is showcased and Coach Bob Ladouceur discusses why it's important to not focus on wins and losses, being that they are merely outcomes. Defensive coach Terry Eidson also comments on the emphasis on brotherhood and teaching each player that there's someone more important in this world than you.

 Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson Interview

Coach Bob Ladouceur and Assistant Coach Terry Eidson are interviewed about their reaction to the movie and what made them want to become coaches. Ladouceur comments on the similar reserved demeanor that he shares with his onscreen counterpart, Jim Caviezel, and Terry Eidson talks about convincing Ladouceur that the movie was a good idea.

 Jim Caviezel and Michael Chiklis Interview

After watching the interview with the real Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson, check out this interview with their onscreen counterparts, Jim Caviezel and Michael Chiklis. The actors talk about the difficulty in portraying living coaches and what makes When the Game Stands Tall different from other sports movies.

 When the Game Stands Tall Trailer

Watch the When the Game Stands Tall movie trailer for the football movie starring Jim Caviezel and Alexander Ludwig. The film tells the true-to-life story of high school football coach Bob Ladouceur (Caviezel), whose De La Salle Spartans achieved a record-setting 151-game win streak.

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