The Winning Season (2009) Review

Bill was struggling in his life with having nothing now, his glory days of being a former athlete and high school basketball coach seems long gone. Until he is offered a coaching role with the girls team, can this be his chance to get his life back on track and reconnect with her daughter who plays at a different school?


The Winning Season follows a formula we are used to seeing from American sports films with a coach who is a former player and now drinks way too much but coming back into sport could just turn their life back around. The thing is that formula seems to work in the best possible way and I will get into just why I enjoyed this film more than others we see.

The girls basketball team haven’t managed to win a game yet and don’t really have too many players at all. Abbie pretty much keeps the team together and as we get to know the girls they all have many different issues going on, she is going out with the star of the boys basketball team attending each and everyone of his games something he does not do for her. Wendy, we find out has a much older boyfriend and that is for one very creepy. Tamra begins to question her sexuality. Kathy struggles with racial slurs and abuse. Donna was just the bus driver but Bill drafts her in as assistant coach to really help out with the team and this was as rather lovely little subplot in all honesty. She had always struggled to fit in and everyone was questioning her sexuality, this then creates a rather good moment with one of the girls Tamra who is starting to realise her own sexuality.

Just from that brief outline to individual issues that the film takes on it really shows that it highlights the issues and barriers when you get involved with a team. Yes you want them to play together but learning to deal with them as individuals is something quite special as a coach. The reason I really enjoyed this film and rated it so highly was due to the fact that it really shows how different it is coaching a girls team to a boys team. Especially when they all really start to like Bill, buying him the shirt and trousers was such a touching moment. I felt as though it got everything all spot on with how the girls wanted to know everything about him and they would surround him on the bus to and from games bombarding him with questions.

Sam Rockwell leads the film in a fantastic manner and somehow manages to be likeable despite the drinking side of the character. He has some really good coaching moments and we get to see him stick up for the girls in his team. Emma Roberts and Rooney Mara probably get the most screen time from the players and they are both really good in the respective roles. Margo Martindale was given some scene stealing moments and I guess that is not really a surprise from the incredible actress.

Considering I had never really heard much about this film before watching it I really was expecting it to be the same as all other basketball coach films but the girls team and the different issues surrounding that made me absolutely love it.

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