Football season is officially underway. With football on TV, fall in the air, and a movie based on the book on the horizon, now is the perfect time to read the inspiring true story of Woodlawn, by Todd Gerelds.
Woodlawn is set in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970's. Coach Tandy Gerelds is struggling to integrate a team of high school football players in an era and a community that wants anything but to work together. He tries everything to get his guys to break down barriers and truly be a team, but to no avail. Finally, a bootlegger-turned-preacher named Wales Goebel shows up and shows them that the way to be united is not to put on the same jersey, but the same heart. As the entire team experiences a change of heart and a new-found faith, they finally are able to work together and let every player shine, especially their African-American superstar: Tony Nathan. At a school where black and white students couldn't even walk the halls together (due to violence), this is an amazing feat. I love the story of this faith-born brotherhood, but I also love the personal stories of the men who brought it about: the coach, the team chaplin and a local evangelist.
I am looking forward to seeing the movie, but I have a feeling it will not adequately explain the amazing back stories of Wales Goebel and Hank Erwin. These men had such interesting lives and give God all the credit for the difficulties they overcame. I'm sure they never thought they would be changing the course of a football team, but their authenticity affected those young football players deeply and allowed them to hear the message of Jesus Christ's love that they both experienced and shared with the team.
Woodlawn the movie (with Sean Astin & Jon Voight) comes out October 15, 2015, but the book comes out this week! That give you a month to get the whole true story which, trust me, you have to hear! Order the book here, or check your local book store.
** I received a free copy of Woodlawn from Howard Books for my honest review. All opinions are my own, of course : ) **