with his players, he teaches Coach Yoast a thing or two about what is
best for some of the players. Coach Boone understands how hard it is
growing up black, something that Coach Yoast could not understand.
He observes Coach Yoast being soft on some of the black players in
particular and tells him that codling these boys will not prepare them
for the world they are living in, an allusion to racial differences.
An emotional point in the movie McFarland, USA comes when
one of Coach White’s runners, Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts), is
preparing to jump off of a bridge and commit suicide. Coach White is
able to talk Thomas down by reminding him that he needs his legs to
run and running is the best thing he currently has going for himself.
Coach truly cares about Thomas and recognizes his worth; even if
Thomas himself cannot see that value in himself, he does recognize the
connection between him and his coach. Later on in the movie, Coach
White addresses his runner’s grades, similar to how Coach Carter does
with his players. Coach White wants his runners to seriously consider
higher education. He buys each of his runners an SAT prep book and
discusses with them what they need to do to prepare for college
admissions. Finally, Coach White does something for the boys that
seems so small but means so much to them because he truly cares about
them and pays attention. He takes the runners to a beach because they
have never had that experience before, and it truly means the world to
each guy on the team.
Learning From Students
Coach White ends up learning a lot from his students, as he
comes from a completely different world than theirs. In a comical
moment, the boys are talking about Cruz’s uncle and how he “just got
out.” Coach White inquisitively asks, “What’s out?” and the boys
explain to him that he has just gotten out of jail. For them, this phrase
is understood within their culture but is something completely new to
Coach White. He also learns a lot about their work as pickers. Coach
White has them doing hill training over what he later learns are covered
mounds of almonds picked by pickers. What coach looks at as