Small towns and the refusal to quit

In the almost six years I’ve been writing NewsCut, I’ve found few stories as interesting as one I wrote in 2010 about the Wrenshall girls basketball team because it mirrors the experience of so many small towns in Minnesota, where diminishing  populations challenge the future of high school sports.

The Wrenshall kids showed up for practice and for each game, knowing they were likely to lose.

Nothing would be sweeter than to tell you things got better, but they didn’t. Wrenshall finished 3-20 overall last winter, 0-12 in a very tough conference. Some of the kids I profiled have graduated and probably have learned the best lesson life can teach: Don’t give up.

Perhaps with that in mind, the Free Range Film Festival in Wrenshall has included a similar tale in its lineup for this year’s 10th season, which was announced today.

Medora, directed by Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart (you may recognize him from This American Life), caps the festival’s opening night. Funded via a Kickstarter campaign, it profiles the Medora, Ind., boys basketball team that, like the town itself, once was something much more than it is now. Both were broken.

The festival runs July 26-27.