Some people are born with the odds stacked against them. How they deal with those odds? How can they overcome obstacles and deal with hardships? Do they give up? Give in? Or struggle through it all and make themselves in their own images?
The Wildcats, a team of basketball players, have been asking themselves such questions for at least the past year — maybe their whole lives. You can hear their answers every week in the roaring sound of sneakers on hardwood, or in their winded breath from “just one more” sprint, or in the team’s motto and favorite chant: “Hard Work, No Excuses!”
These are the most determined 9-year-olds you’ll ever meet.
Growing up in the inner-city of Norfolk, VA — an almost forgotten recession town with unemployment above the national average — the Wildcats have had to overcome a lot in their short time on Earth. Most come from fatherless homes and live in the projects. Statistically speaking one in four won’t graduate high school with their peers, if ever.
But when they slip on their jerseys, yellow with a wildcat roaring to life, none of these fourth graders are thinking about their struggles at home or in school. They’re focused on one goal: winning. And, they’re doing so beyond all expectations.
After closing out last season with a regional loss to a bitter out-of-state rival, the drive for redemption has never been more pressing. This year’s team has a “serious business” approach, especially with so much on the line. It’s amazing how much change can happen in 12 months — especially for kids who are determined to win.
From watching the players so far this season, there’s a sense that they’ve arrived. The moment they step on the court, all their problems vanish. The team becomes a machine. If ever the Wildcats were poised for a run at the national title, this is the year.
With the help of volunteer coaches, determined to show the kids a life outside the projects, and a community yearning for inspiration, these kids have a shot at winning — not only in basketball but in life. The odds be damned.
It’s a story for the ages, and with the help of people around the globe it could soon be a story in your local movie theater.
The team is turning to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to spark grassroots support and raise funds to share the Wildcats’ story through a documentary. Indiegogo helps audiences produce projects they care about by collecting small donations in return for rewards — like DVDs, t-shirts, and posters.
Most projects, WILDCAT: The Documentary included, also offer unique rewards like getting your name in the credits, having your picture featured in the film, or even dinner with the team.
“Once people meet the WILDCATS and see what they’ve had to overcome to get where they are, they’ll be invested in the story and the team,” said Anthony Clary, director and producer. “Couldn’t we all use a little bit more inspiration in our lives?”
The Indiegogo campaign launches today (January 14) and runs for 60 days. To make a pledge, share the project, or simply wish the WILDCATS “good luck” on their run at nationals, visit WildcatTheMovie.com.
Inspiration for a the new year and beyond.
Written by Daniel T. Richards, Digital Media Director for WILDCAT: The Movie, an inner city basketball documentary.