You may not be familiar with the name Jim White, but all of that is about to change. The new film, McFarland is based on White's life focusing on the time he moved to a small, impoverished California town and changed the lives of dozens of high school students for the better.
During the 1980s, coach Jim White (played in the film by Kevin Costner) who has taught at a number of high schools, winds up at McFarland High School in California, where the students are predominantly Latino. The coach soon discovers that not only are the boys on his team exceptional athletes, but he also takes note of their work ethic, their commitment to one another and their strong family relationships. Despite the economic challenges his team faces, he takes them to compete at the cross-country championships and forms a fledgling team of unlikely runners who bond to build not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well.
In reality, the school's unprecedented 24-year streak of attending the State Championship meet came to an end while the film was in production after the small school was elevated to Division I, to compete against schools with more than 2.5 times their population.
Still, Jim White couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments and that of his team's and is thrilled that Disney wanted to tell this inspirational story.
Coach Jim White was recently in Toronto where we had the opportunity to discuss McFarland, how he feels about being portrayed by Kevin Costner and what he feels it takes to become a champion. You can watch our interview below.
JIM WHITE graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., in 1964 and began his career in the McFarland School District, where he taught 5th Grade and then Junior High before retiring in 2002. In 1980 White started coaching at the high school and ultimately started its first cross-country team. The McFarland cross-country program has produced teams that have won nine state championships since the first team hit the ground running in 1987. He currently lives in Posey, CA, not far from McFarland and continues to coach at the school part time.
McFarland opens in theatres on February 20th, 2015.