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the film

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synopsis

This documentary tells the civil rights leadership story of St. Augustine High School, New Orleans, LA and its football program during the thirteen years following a 1967 federal court ruling that approved St. Augustine’s competition in Louisiana’s all-White high school sports association.  The school’s role in the community and public competition inspired African Americans and helped to integrate and transform the City of New Orleans.  

Adversity was faced by St. Augustine through discriminatory officiating on the field and unfavorable rulings from the High School Association off the field.  This story tells how the school responded to these challenges and ultimately achieved excellence through winning three state championships and developing young men for life success.

A central figure in the story is Head Football Coach Otis Washington, an inductee in both the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame (2012) and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2015).  Coach Washington was an innovator of offensive football and great teacher of discipline, toughness and sportsmanship.  His teams won eighty-seven percent (87%) of its games during his tenure.

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inspiration

The documentary was inspired by the impact St. Augustine High School (St. Aug) of New Orleans had on the life experiences of Writer, Director, Producer Oyd Craddock.  He grew up in the St. Aug community during the 1960’s and connected to the school as a civil rights leader through its pioneering competition with White schools in academics, sports and activities.

Craddock enrolled at St. Aug the fall of 1972 and would become an honor student and co-captain of St. Aug’s 1975 undefeated state football champions.  This championship was St. Aug’s first within the high school association it integrated through winning a federal court ruling in 1967.  The academic and athletic experience at St. Aug would forever impact Craddock’s life and relationship with the school.

In January 2012, Craddock attended the LHSAA Sports Hall of Fame induction of Coach Otis Washington, and it was there that seeds were planted for the documentary.  Those seeds would grow after Craddock spent time with Coach Washington, viewed photographs and later interviewed other St. Aug student-athletes that played under Coach Washington.

The interviews with former student-athletes proved to be “magical” for Craddock and compelled him to tell the story of St. Augustine High School and Coach Otis Washington that was about football excellence and much more.  The magic of these interviews created the need for opinions outside of the close-knit St. Aug players and coaches.

Opinions of an opposing high school coach, college coach, sport journalists and civil rights activist both confirmed and further inspired the Before the West Coast story.  This would culminate in the ultimate compliment from the civil rights activist … “St. Aug and Coach Washington are like Jackie Robinson.  They competed and excelled.”

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press

october 24, 2016

Before the West Coast: A Sports Civil Rights Story' makes local premiere: A documentary which chronicles St. Augustine High School’s early days in the LHSAA premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival...

october 15, 2016

Movie tells of fight to integrate high school football: A Catholic school's fight to integrate Louisiana high school football is just one part of a movie that premieres this weekend at the New Orleans Film Festival...

october 15, 2016

In 1967 St. Augustine won the right to compete in the Catholic football league in Louisiana. As the only black team in an all-white league being good wasn’t enough: they had to be the absolute best...

october 14, 2016

Documentary relives St. Aug's rise to title in wake of desegregation: A documentary premiering Saturday at the New Orleans Film Festival recounts the saga of the 1967 St. Augustine High School football team...

october 11, 2016

2016 New Orleans Film Festival viewer guide: How to make the best of your fest: The 2016 New Orleans Film Festival launches Wednesday at downtown's Orpheum Theater, and it will be doing so with some A-list help...