His office door simply says, "Track & Field Coach." His life says infinitely more.

Hey Coach Buehler fans!

Duke student Molly here.  Last year, I took the Duke University seminar class that helped produce The Coach Buehler Story.  Not wanting my involvement to end when the semester did, I’m taking an independent study with The Coach Buehler Story Director/Producer Amy Unell, through which I’m interviewing different media industry professionals and sharing their wisdom here on the Buehler Blog.

My first interview is a Q&A with NBC News Director of Social Media Ryan Osborn.  Check it out at this link:  http://bit.ly/ijTG0k


Check out this profile on Grant Hill in The Arizona Republic to learn what Grant has to say about Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buehler Story.


Photo: Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and NBA All-Star Grant Hill join their friend and mentor Coach Al Buehler.  Hill, the film’s Executive Producer, took Coach Buehler’s class at Duke after his team won the NCAA Basketball Championship.  Photo by Liza Bishop/Sweet Life Studio

After being fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be recruited by schools with a rich track history (such as Oregon, UCLA, Baylor), I ended up deciding that the best fit was Duke despite thinking that there was not much track history here.

And then I learned about Coach Al Buehler.

I was in a class that helped out with producing his documentary, and there I teamed up with other students to do archive research on his life and on Duke track history.  I saw that his team won several ACC championships, that he coached and mentored Olympians, that he helped improve racial relations in the 1950‘s, and how he always strived to help improve lives.  I learned that this guy is so much more than a track coach and that he created a deep tradition of success in Duke track and field.

I first met Coach Buehler about 5 months after he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor.  I sometimes wondered if a few of his mannerisms were directly related to his brain tumor and what he was like without his periodic balance problems: mainly I was speculating whether the Coach Buehler I know is the same coach at the one being portrayed in the documentary—the brilliant person with a passion to improve other peoples’ lives.

As I got to know him a little better, I found out that he was always willing to include me in various parts of his life—whether it was simply saying I’m welcome at is house anytime or inviting me to hang out with his family at the beach.  I picked up on how he tosses in various life advice every now and then such as describing to me the importance of a “hide-out” or quoting John Wooden.

Underneath the superficial balance problems and the meandering stories, I found out firsthand that Coach is simply a great friend—just as many of his former athletes describe him.  He knows what it means to live a good life, he shows you how by his example, and he is always willing to suggest ways to improve yours…even if it’s a tip on how to improve your 800 time.

– Curtis Beach, Duke ’13

Duke Sophomore Curtis Beach recently competed against reigning Olympic decathlon and World Indoor heptathlon gold medalist Bryan Clay, 2009 World decathlon champ Trey Hardee and indoor heptathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton in the Millrose Multi Challenge at the 2011 Millrose Games.   Beach holds the current high school record in the decathlon.

Time to fly home!  Stay tuned for interview clips, behind-the-scenes videos, and pictures from Sundance!

Sundance has been such a fun adventure that we decided to get an early start to Day 4.  How early is early?  Think 5a!  We threw on our stylin’ Starting at the Finish Line t-shirts and pulled up to Park City TV (PCTV) for the Mountain Morning Show (aka Park City’s version of the Today Show).  Many thanks to show hosts Jen Hardman and Karilyn Frazier for giving us a backstage pass to watch the show live in the studio.  The show’s rundown had an impressive list of directors and cast from the films premiering at Sundance, as well as an acoustic live performance by up and coming singer-songwriter Moi Navarro.

Another highlight at PCTV was getting a behind-the-scenes interview with director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Prefontaine, ESPN’s 30 for 30 No Crossover).  James, a director/cinematographer/editor, is at Sundance for the fifth time (isn’t that amazing?) with his documentary, The Interrupters.  We had been blown away by No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson at last year’s Full Frame Film Festival.  The opportunity to interview a filmmaker with such a keen talent for capturing sports through film was truly an inspiring opportunity.  Stay tuned for our interview with Steve!

Still on cloud 9, we rushed over to meet up with our friend and Duke alum, Dave Karger at the Entertainment Weekly reception celebrating women in film.  Congratulations to Amy Wendel for winning the L’Oréal Paris Women of Vision Award for her film, Benavides Born.  We were inspired by Wendel’s comments about following your passions.  Check back for a Q & A with Wendel on our blog soon!

Big thanks to Karger for introducing us to the amazing and talented Keri Putnam (Executive Director, Sundance Film Festival) and Lynette Howell (Blue Valentine, Half Nelson).  Check out this article in The New York Times: “Sundance Is a Warm Place for Female Filmmakers.” It was wonderful to hear these women’s stories and see how far women have come in this industry.  We’re excited to be a part of the next chapter!

Strong winds, snowfall, and dense fog tested us, but didn’t keep us from having a rockin’ Day 3.  After bundling up in a couple of extra layers and lacing up our heavy duty snow boots, we were ready for action.  First stop – Plum TV!  We ran into the Plum TV team while they were doing MOS (man on the street) interviews on Park City’s Main Street.  After sharing out story, the producer invited us to do an interview for their show “Film Insider.”  We had an awesome time with Drew (camera) and Ursula (producer/production manager) and can’t wait to see the piece when it airs in February.  Stay tuned for our behind-the-scenes piece of the Plum TV interview!

After Plum TV, we headed to a reception hosted by NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  We learned that a record setting 21 out of the 58 films in competition at Sundance were directed by Tisch Alums.  Huge thank you to Dean Mary Schmidt Campbell.  She made us Blue Devils feel right at home!

We had a blast shadowing David Karger, Duke alum and Entertainment Weekly Senior Writer.  He was so kind to let us sit in on his interviews with the casts of The Guard and Win Win.  We toured the two-floor EW Portrait Studio and interviewed the behind-the-scenes crew, from the studio photographer to the videographer and producer/editor.  Big thanks to Dave and the EW Sundance Team!

Stay tuned.. more Sundance updates to come!

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