In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was ravaged. Images of death, devastation and despair filled the nation's consciousness. In the days following the hurricane, basketball Coach Al Collins of John Ehret High School in Marrero, LA lost his home, nearly all of his team (displaced by the storm); funds; facilities; and just about everything he needed to do his job. The upcoming film Hurricane Season (MGM, December 25, 2008), starring Forest Whitaker as Coach Al Collins, tells the courageous and victorious true story of how one man made a positive impact on his community by turning trauma into triumph.
Against unimaginable odds, Coach Al Collins gave his students and community something the storm couldn't touch: a special purpose and the will to rebound, literally. At the podium, Coach Al Collins shares his true story of leading his team of ten students from five rival schools before the storm and how they overcame their personal tragedies together to join forces and win the 2006 Louisiana State Basketball Championship -- becoming perhaps the most inspiring Katrina comeback of all.
Coach Al Collins was already a beloved, award-winning basketball coach at John Ehret High School just outside of New Orleans when Katrina hit. But Coach Collins never lost sight of his promise to his boys of the commitment he made to coach them. For a while, the highs seemed unattainable, and he and his new team hit plenty of lows. With no money for meals on the road, Coach Al Collins gave his team donated military rations. Practices and games were cancelled. Soon Ehret had a dismal record and a team full of bad attitudes to match. So Coach Collins gave his student-athletes an ultimatum: work it out, or the season is over.
Miraculously, they did. Under the leadership of Coach Al Collins, each player began to make huge sacrifices, on the court and off, for the good of the team. As Ehret Highs Patriots rallied, Coach Al Collins did his part by keeping them focused on the positives, pushing them to give it their all for the love of the game. And in the end, they beat the most powerful team in the state to clinch the championship and make the Comeback of All Comebacks. Hailed nationwide for his courage, determination and leadership, Coach Al Collins won Maxpreps 2006 Coach of the Year Award.
Today Coach Al Collins lives with his wife and children just outside of New Orleans, where he continues to work at Ehret as a coach/behavioral specialist.