This Sunday, New Trier High School will host a special screening of “GameChangers,” the 2018 sports documentary that looks back at the 1965 and 1966 Marshall and New Trier basketball teams, who faced off in back-to-back years at the Evanston SuperSectional.
The film examines the 1960s rivalry between Marshall and New Trier, positioned “at the intersection of sports, race and culture,” which generated “plenty of pre-game and post-game drama… with shattered backboards, some really good basketball and incendiary headlines.”
On March 12, 4pm, at Cornog Auditorium located on the New Trier Northfield Campus, a screening of the 77-minute film will be held for the public followed by a post-film panel discussion featuring players from both teams, including: Tom Anderson, New Trier ’66; Richard Bradshaw, Marshall ’66; Nate Byrd, Marshall ’66; John Holmes, New Trier ’66; Ed Jamieson, New Trier ’65; Bob Reece, Evanston, ’64; Howard Wilkins, New Trier ’67.
“Bringing these two teams back together after a really contentious rivalry, that just doesn’t happen,” said filmmaker Joe Dondanville. “And everybody’s lived their lives — so every person that was involved in this had their own story and their own perspective about the games in 1965 and 1966, [plus] everything that’s going on in our world now.”
The documentary was born from a realization that 8mm film copies of both SuperSectional games still existed. After some more research, Dondanville decided that not only could they have both teams reunite under more positive circumstances, but they could retell the story that rocked Chicago, in their own way. What resulted is a film that powerfully splices together black-and-white footage of the games and testimonials from the players and others connected to this historical event.
“The more I read about it, I thought it was a pretty amazing story. … I said, ‘It would be great to not only get the New Trier guys, but also the Marshall guys together.’ And we were then able to do that 50 years to the day after the ’66 game.” Dondanville said. “We watched the game film, and these guys hadn’t seen each other in 50 years since they walked off the court without having a chance to shake hands, because the ’66 game was called early due to a brawl amongst the fans — not amongst the players. It was a really well played game with a lot of respect. But the next day, it was front page news.”
Since its debut, the film has been screened in theaters across the Midwest and has also been shown at festivals, such as the Heartland International Film Festival.
Former players and others connected with the story have launched The Game Changers Foundation — which helps develop student athletes into future leaders who impact their family, community and the world, and has already dispersed thousands of dollars in scholarships to that end. While outright donations are welcome, the March 12 screening will also double as a fundraiser for GCF, in which every dollar collected goes directly to youth scholarships.
In an effort to keep the momentum going around this ever-green topic of race relations in America, specifically Chicago, Marshall High School hosts an annual screening on the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. — details to come.
As a show of Chicagoland support, the screening is sponsored by North Shore Community Bank, as well as American Taxi, Digital Check Corporation, Pomeroy and Sophia Steak — the latter of which will donate 10% of any diner’s receipt if they mention “GameChangers,” only on Sunday, March 12.
Want to see the film and hear the first-hand commentary from key players? Visit the GameChangers website where registration for the screening, rivalry history and all specific details can be found.
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Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.