The Bottom Line: "It's time for me to finally go To The place I only know It's time for me to finally go I'm coming home..." ~Mitch Allan & Alex Band
In 1990 the town of Norway, Iowa, was told that their high school would be closed and merged with a neighboring town. At the time Norway had a population of 556 with a student body running around 100 total. This, of course, was decided by some suits in Des Moines who didn't visit Norway but knew them only by the bottom line on a financial statement. Had they bothered to visit the town they would have realized what closing the high school would entail.
Norway High School had a legendary baseball team. In fact, they held 19 state titles when the decision was made to close the school. Their team was led by Coach Van Scovoc who held a few titles himself; 3 state coach of the year and 1 national coach of the year. Kent Stock, who was an assistant coach of the girls' volleyball team at a nearby college, came to Norway to assist Van Scovoc in 1990 for the final two months of the season. Not for recognition or reward, simply because he admired him and wanted to coach under his direction. Little did he know at the time that this would be the turning point of his life.
When it was decided to close Norway, one of the stipulations was that outspoken Van Scovoc would leave the school in order for them to have one final season, 1991, of baseball. Figuring they were pulling the coup of the year, the town leaders that were behind the school closing hired this unknown coach, Kent Stock, with his silly background, and brought him to Norway to fill the hefty shoes of the departed Van Scovoc.
And that, readers, is how history was made.
The Final Season was directed by David M. Evans; writers Art D'Alessandro & James Grayford. It is based on actual events that happened in this town in Iowa. How true they kept to the story, I have no idea. I do know that Stock quit a lackluster job in Des Moines and stopped wedding plans to go to this school and take over the coaching position. I do know that this town is one of those small towns that puts their focus on something and backs it 100%. Even the practices were attended by the entire town; closing shops and businesses to sit in the bleachers and root their Tigers on.
It was the one relief people had, especially young people, from the back breaking job of running farms and clearing fields. Sometimes three or four generations would be in the stands, all alumni of the school and the sport. With the loss of their former coach, the school closing looming over their heads, and a majority of the star players graduating the previous year, the 1991 season wasn't one that was welcomed. Even the towns people stayed away from practices, defeated before the season even began.
The two main characters in the movie were Kent Stock, played by Sean Astin and Jim Van Scovoc played by Powers Boothe. Tom Arnold had a small part and wasn't entirely unpleasant to watch. Astin reprised his ‘come back' role of Rudy by grabbing the part and shaking it for all it was worth. Boothe imparted wisdom and strength to the team players, the town, and Stock.
A good deal of the filming was done in the town of Norway, IA., with beautiful scenery and wonderful small town appearance. This is definitely one of those feel good movies that inspire and offer hope for succeeding. I was slightly surprised to see it was rated PG for language and teen smoking. Teen smoking ... really ... after some of these games they put out today and they wanna gripe about two small scenes where a teen lights a cigarette.
My thanks to Psychovant for adding this to the database for me