Nine for IX: Coach (2013)

Directed by Bess Kargman

I can’t possibly think of a better way to kick off ESPNw’s Nine for IX series than with this beautiful short, a portrait of a strong woman struggling with pressures and tragedy throughout her successful life. Sports fans know C. Vivian Stringer as one of the best coaches in women’s basketball. A Hall of Famer who entered alongside the likes of Michael Jordan, David Robinson and John Stockton. The only coach in women’s basketball to take three different schools to the Final Four. Won over 900 games in her career. Stringer’s success in the coaching world is matched perhaps by only a select few in the history of the game. But for as amazing a coach as she is, C. Vivian Stringer very well may be an even better human being.

As John Chaney explains in his compassionate testimony, Stringer has seen “much tragedy” in her life, in addition to the struggles of being an African-American woman in the sporting world. But she has met each event in her life with great strength of character and tremendous passion, creating a wonderful role model for girls of all ages. A loving wife and caring mother, the “coach” embraces her role as a teacher and leader of young people. Stringer has lived her life with great passion, coaching for “the love of the game”. From this Stringer has been able to accomplish something greater by driving not only herself, but others to success and greatness, yes, but also sisterhood, friendship, and the concept of accomplishment through teamwork. Through the words of former player Heather Zurich we quickly see her impact and leadership, crafting strong, compassionate young women.

Bess Kargman kicks off Nine for IX with a short chock full of emotion. There is so much going on here as C. Vivian Stringer has had so much happen in her illustrious career, from the personal adversity she has faced to the rocky yet successful 2007 Rutgers season which will be remembered less for their National Runner-Up result and more for the controversy churned up by the words of longtime radioman Don Imus. It feels as though it could have been a feature length film, with all that has happened in Stringer’s life, yet the short format allows Kargman to bring the story to us with full emotional effect. If this is any indication of the rest of the series, the summer of Nine for IX should prove to be quite good.

*** – Very Good

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