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Patches O’Houlihan deserves recognition among greatest sports movie coaches

One of the true legends of the genre

One of the true legends of the genre

There are many great coaches in the annals of sports film. One might point to the motivational skills of Coach Norman Dale or the borderline-miraculous job of melding personalities by Coach Herman Boone. But think about it. Which sports movie coach really
did the best coaching job. Nothing against Dale, but he had Jimmy Chitwood. Boone had defensive studs in Campbell and Bertier. Let’s not even get into the type of stocked lineups that Coach Pete Bell or Coach Winters had at their disposal at their respective institutions.

Instead, truly great coaching is often about taking disparate pieces that don’t quite fit and making them work in perfect harmony. Molding a team where talent might fall far shorter than ambition. Inspiring individuals to get the absolute most of their ability…to OVER-achieve. Teams like the Bad News Bears and Skipper Lou Brown’s Indians come to mind. But even the Tribe had some raw specimens like Pedro Cerrano and speed you can’t teach with Willie Mays Hayes.

Which brings me to Patches O’Houlihan. It’s time the coach gets the respect he deserves. Think about it. Who did more with less? O’Houlihan took an Average Joes “team” that scarcely knew the game of dodgeball. Undersized, lacking any experience and largely devoid of any sort of natural athletic ability. In a matter of weeks, he transformed them into a cohesive unit that not only was able to compete in the premier dodgeball tournament in the country, but beat global powerhouse GloboGym to win the title.

Personally, I think Patches belongs in the annals of all-time great movie coaches. Always remember…if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. May he rest in peaces.


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