A terrible accident, a heartbreaking loss, a community rallying together, and a storybook ending to a tough volleyball season: this story is far too familiar for the people who loved and lost 17-year-old Caroline Found of Iowa City in August 2011.
The story of resilience and inspiration is now a book and a soon-to-be-released major motion picture called The Miracle Season. On this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with Kathy Bresnahan, an Iowa City teacher and volleyball coach, and Olivia Mekies, Found's former teammate and longtime friend. David Aaron Cohen, one of the screenwriters for The Miracle Season, also joins the conversation.
"She was just one of those outstanding leaders, friends of everybody, the disenfranchised, the special needs, kids without money," Bresnahan says about Found. "We always joked that she never broke any team rules but she loved to bend them."
Found's emphasis on inclusion helped propel the volleyball team to success in the 2010 state championship, and her loss had a profound impact on the team.
"We didn't just lose our best returning athlete and our returning captain," Mekies says. "We lost an incredible leader. She was kind of that glue that was, at the time, holding everyone together and pushing us forward."
During the 2011 volleyball season after Found's loss, the team took the game day by day.
"That was the only thing we said—let's play like Caroline," Bresnahan says. "Then it didn't matter if you won or lost, because that's all she ever asked of herself and others, was just play your hardest. Love the game, play your hardest."
Then, Found's story became the subject of an HBO Sports segment with Frank Deford. The calls from Hollywood followed.
"Such a vulnerability, that our pain is being exposed to a lot of people," Bresnahan says. "I thought they did honor to the story."
Proceeds from sales of The Miracle Season by Bresnahan support the Live Like Line Foundation. The Miracle Season film will premiere at Englert Theatre in Iowa City on March 18.