In The Miracle Season, the Iowa City West High School volleyball team must defend its state championship after its captain and setter is tragically killed. Starring Helent Hunt, William Hurt, and Erin Moriarty, the film challenges the audience to find healing and wholeness in community, through faith and togetherness.
Caroline “Line” Found isn’t just the best player on the Iowa City West team - she’s also Kelly’s (Moriarty) best friend, confidant, and enthusiastic supporter. When Line crashes an ill-gotten scooter, Kelly’s world is thrown into complete turmoil. But her coach, Kathy Bresnahan (Hunt) rides her hard to improve her game and lead well, while Line’s father, Dr. Ernie Found (Hurt), provides gentle encouragement as they all fight through the stages of grief they encounter.
Directed by Sean McNamara and produced by Mickey Liddell’s LD Entertainment, The Miracle Season is a story of struggling through grief and despair, while pursuing a common goal that brings a community together. Sure, it has some ‘typical’ sports drama motifs, like a moment in practice when Kelly’s focus saves the team from brutal suicides by nailing a mark, and periodic moments where the coach seems brutal but is teaching lessons that will come into importance later. For many audiences, the focus on women’s volleyball will be of special importance, because there are fewer female-dominated sports movies (or ones that don’t focus on a more popular sport like basketball or football).
While the bulk of the action surrounds the “Win for Line” moments in the locker room or on the volleyball court, Found’s struggle with the grief over his wife and child’s death generates plenty of anger against God. He’s the image of faith versus doubt, and his grief over his losses take him to some very un-Joblike places. While that’s understandable, given that this is a real-life story and those are real-life people he’s lost, the film refuses to let him stay stuck in his anger. Instead, thanks to a persistent colleague at his hospital, Pound’s faith is increased over the course of the film.
Elsewhere, Pound tells Kelly that while he may be a doctor, she’s the healer on the court. Her ability to fight through her own grief, the pressure of her teammates, and her own insecurities prove to be a unifying factor for a team that might otherwise have folded under the weight of Line’s loss. This is a solid reminder of the way that our faith is often a mix of both our words and our actions, our belief and our example. For Kelly, it’s a question of living like Line, but for the rest of her squad, it’s about watching Kelly, and living like her.