‘The Heart of the Game’


Ward Serrill set out to make a short documentary about the girls’ basketball team at Roosevelt High School in Seattle—and especially its coach, Bill Resler, a tax professor with no experience. But a season later, the filmmaker encountered Darnellia Russell, who wound up the star of the team and the star of a movie bound up not just in the Xs and Os of winning, but the politics of race, gender, and class. The Heart of the Game is a sweet, engaging journey with the Roosevelt Roughriders, whose kindly coach encourages the girls to snarl like wolves and devour like lions. The movie has its bleak moments but aspires to inspire and uplift; you revel in the moment when the girls discuss their reluctance to touch each other on the court, and in their eventual love for the pushing and shoving of hardwood war.