The Heart of the Game
Autumn 2006 Documentary series
Wednesday, December 6, 2006 at 7:00pm
Directed by Ward Serrill
Starring Ludacris, Devon Crosby Helms, Maude Lepley, Bill Resler, Darnellia Russell, Joyce Walker
Rated NR ·
“Sink your teeth in their necks! Draw blood!” is the rallying cry of the Roosevelt Roughriders girls’ basketball team. Imagining themselves as a pack of wolves, the girls tear into opposing teams and stand together as warriors both on and off the court.
When Seattle filmmaker Ward Serrill met Bill Resler, a college tax professor who moonlights as a girls’ basketball coach, he didn’t realize that he was about to embark on an incredible seven-year journey. Serrill, camera in hand, followed Resler — who looks more like Santa Claus in Birkenstocks than a whistle-blasting high school coach — into the Roosevelt High School gym and soon discovered a group of girls whose unbridled toughness, passion and energy he came to call The Heart of the Game.
Then, one day, onto the Roughriders’ court (and into the film) walked Darnellia Russell — a tough, inner-city girl whose off-court struggles would eventually threaten to crash the star athlete’s plans to play college ball and be the first person in her family to get a college education. At the center of The Heart of the Game is Darnellia’s unforgettable true story — the loss of her eligibility and her legal battle to get back on court to play the game that means everything to her. With Coach Resler, her team and her family standing by her side, she takes on enormous personal obstacles as well as the ruling body of high school sports in Washington State.
The Heart of the Game premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.