MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - On Oscar night one Memphis man, who won the coveted gold statue last year, says it was just the beginning of something great. Bill Courtney, the inspirational high school football coach who was the face of the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, sat down with abc24.com to speak about his Oscar experience and his hopes for the future.
"While the last four years have been kind of fun, we need to keep it in perspective and not let that define us, rather let that just be a part of the experience," Coach Courtney says, "These are things we accomplished together and that's a whole lot more important than walking the red carpet."
Don't get Courtney wrong, the red carpet was fun. "There's Steve Martin there's Russell Crowe, there's Kevin Costner." He recalls a chance encounter with Hollywood royalty, "I actually stepped on George Clooney's foot and went to apologize and the whole thing was just crazy."
What lead to the movie was just a moment in time, a moment captured by two small cameras and three men with a vision. "In a weird way, in an ironic way," he says, "The same story of the kids coming from against very tough odds and being undefeated by their circumstances to attain goals in their lives and being such an underdog, this movie is very much the same thing."
For six years Courtney lead the Manassas football team. That sixth, and final year, is documented in the 2012 Academy Award winning documentary, Undefeated. What Courtney and his coaching team taught his players was so much greater than football. "At the end of the day, we didn't go there to make a movie, we weren't there the previous six years making a movie." He says, "We were just coaching kids, working with kids, we were fundamentally talking about character, commitment, discipline, integrity and all the basic fundamental tenants that matter in your life."
Now writing a book and in talks for a TV show, the movie gave Courtney a platform to use the same principals to change the lives of others. That's what he hopes it was for the students as well, simply a platform, a starting point for greater things.
"What a tragedy it would be if an 18-year-old boy, if the greatest thing that ever happened in his life happened when he was an 18-year-old football player. What needs to happen that's great in their lives is getting married, raising a family and having a good job," he says, "That's a whole lot more important than some gold statue, you know?"
Undefeated is available on DVD now.