August 28, 2019

Overcomer (Running Movie Review) and My Tangent on Cross Country as a Sport

Overcomer movie poster

Oh. My. Gosh.

I can't even find words to describe just how grateful and thankful and humbled I am that some of you were so generous to donate prizes to my cross country team! I'd set up the Amazon wish list last month for myself so when I found something that I thought the kids might like, I could just add it to the list. It never occurred to me to make it public. I felt a little shameful mentioning it yesterday, but I'm glad I did.

And holy smokes. Amazon doesn't show me who purchased what (or any details other than that something was purchased from the wish list), so I can't thank you personally. I just want you to know how much I appreciate each and every little bit of help for these cross country incentives! The kids are going to be ecstatic and I can't wait to tell them that complete strangers bought these for them.

I want to just keep gushing about how thankful I am, but that would take up my entire post! So please know just how much your generosity means to me.

Anyway, I saw a movie the other day that I thought would be fun to write a little about on the blog. My mom's birthday was on Friday and she invited Jerry, the kids, and I to go to a movie and lunch with her and my dad. I knew nothing about the movie except that it was about a cross country coach--sounds great to me! ;)

I will not write any spoilers, so don't worry about that.

The movie is a little cheesy in the way that you can imagine a movie called "Overcomer" might be... but sometimes cheesy movies are a nice break from reality.

So here's the gist (without spoilers):

There is a male teacher/basketball coach whose team is basically falling apart because of budget cuts at the school. Coaching basketball is his passion and he's super bummed that his team is dissolving. Because cross country isn't exactly the most popular sport in school*, the funding was still there for a cross country team.

*Side note: I think that one of the reasons cross country isn't very popular in high school is because it isn't really introduced until the high school level (or maybe middle school). When I was growing up, we didn't have a cross country team--in fact, they took away GYM class for several years because of budgets.

Instead, kids play other sports and they learn that running is used as a punishment. You missed that goal? Go run a lap! You're goofing off during practice? Go run 4 laps! And so on. There are some badass cross country t-shirts that say, "My sport is your sport's punishment", which I think is awesome, haha.

Anyway, by the time the kids even learn what cross country is, they've already established themselves into other sports. Cross country never stood a chance! (I honest-to-God never even knew what cross country was until I was in 10th grade.) And when I learned what it was, I thought you had to be skinny and fast to be on the team.

Maybe it's different depending on the school, but our schools don't have tryouts for cross country. You can be slow as molasses and still run on the team if you're willing to go to practice and do the work. As an overweight non-athlete when I was in school, I was too embarrassed and scared to try out for any sport at all. If I would have known that I didn't have to try out for cross country, who knows? Maybe I would have given it a shot.

But then I wouldn't be Runs for Cookies now ;)

Anyway, this is the whole reason that Renee and I started an elementary cross country team--so that kids can learn their options and see what they like before committing to a sport in high school. Even if they decide they don't like it, at least they will learn about it.

One of the things that I think should be pointed out for us introverts is that cross country is the perfect sport for us! Yes, we are part of a team, but running is mostly solo. You compete against yourself and you can run by yourself if you choose to. That is actually the reason that I chose running for exercise over the last 10 years rather than an exercise class or something more social.

After that loooong side note, I'll get back to the film.

This coach (I forget his name, so I'll just call him "Coach") is asked to coach cross country because basketball just isn't happening. He makes the cliché jokes about not running unless he's being chased, etc., but gets talked into doing it (very reluctantly).

When he goes to the first practice, there is only one girl who shows up for "tryouts". And she has asthma. So, Coach basically feels like it's hopeless and pointless to even coach a "team", but the principal insists. He times her first 5K run (at this point, I rolled my eyes hard at Jerry because they were making it sound like a 24:00 minute 5K was "not bad" to start. My FASTEST 5K was 24:04!

The girl on the team has a bit of a troubled home life (she lives with her grandmother who doesn't have much time for her); and she likes to steal things (probably as a way of coping with her feelings).

I can't write much more about the film because I don't want to spoil it (there is more to it than just the "coach trains girl who then goes on to win the state championships"-type of feel good story). But basically, the movie then goes on to show this girl (and the coach) overcoming obstacles as she trains for an important race.

In the end, the race has a bit of a twist to it to make it unique to any other running movie I've seen. I really enjoyed it!

I will point out that it is a Christian film, so references to God, faith, and prayer are included in the film; but I didn't think they were too overbearing. I just wanted to mention it in case you aren't into that.

Overall, I found the film to be inspiring, fun, and a tear-jerker all at once. So, if you're looking for some running inspiration or you just want to see a feel-good film, I think this one fits the bill!


  1. Have you seen McFarland USA? I thought that was an outstanding cross country coach movie - sounds similar to this one, but one of the things I loved was that it was a true story and at the end it showed how all the kids turned out. Choked me right up!

  2. We just saw the movie tonight and loved it! It's so nice to take the kids to see a movie with zero concerns about there being inappropriate content!

  3. I want a school that cuts one of the major programs first. Cutting basketball? Not likely. On the other hand, loved the tangent, our family sport is swimming. So I get the underappreciated, really good exercise, introvert friendly vibe.

  4. We like the heart warming sports movies. We haven't gone to a movie all summer so I'll check to see if it's playing here.

  5. I ran cross country in junior and senior high and now my niece who is 13 is in her 2nd year in cross country and so much better than I was! I love that she's enjoying the sport.

    I love movies like this so thanks for the recommendation. Hope your CC team has a great year!

  6. Kendrick brothers are kind of the Spielberg of Christian inspriational films. If you liked this movie for more than just the running aspects of it, try "facing the giants" from 2006. It has a spectacular clip about doing more than you think is possible. I'm looking forward to seeing this one. Maybe this weekend.

  7. I saw the movie this weekend and loved it too. I never knew what cross country was until I was out of HS myself. SO CRAZY how that is. My 9 year old is on his schools running club and he knows about running because of me and his older brother! Word of mouth for some sports seems to be the only way.

  8. My wife and I really liked this movie. We saw it twice.

  9. I went with my husband and my kids and all of us loved this movie, it make us think what is defining our lives? We cried, and we laughed at the same time, Great movie

  10. I will have to take my kids to see that movie. Thank you for the review. As an aside, my daughter is in 8th grade now and just had her first cross county meet of the season today. She was so proud of her race! I love cross county as a sport, because it more about self improvement than winning (at least that is how her coach is). She wanted to be on the cross country team since she saw the middle schoolers on their practice runs. She couldn't start until 6th grade, but she has loved every minute of it since. I love what this sport has done for my daughter. I think it is awesome that you started an elementary team.


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