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April 2004 | Scott Engelhardt

Last fall, the Storm hosted an event at the University of Washington during which filmmaker Ward Serrill previewed a clip from his documentary "The Heart of the Game." The film, currently being edited and due for a Summer 2004 release, follows the Roosevelt Roughriders girls' basketball team over six years culminating in the 2004 Washington State Basketball Championship.

As stated from the official website dedicated to the film, "The Heart of the Game is the story of girls breaking out of stereotypes and finding their true power through basketball. In the old days girls had to play by special rules to keep them in their place — keep them ladylike and submissive. The Roosevelt Roughriders of Seattle refuse to play by those rules."

The short clip of the film we saw at the Storm event was enough to make me a believer and supporter of the film. In just a few minutes, it summed up for me not only why women's basketball is real and not a niche sport, but also reinforced the reasons why I'm a fan of women's basketball and strengthened my belief that the future of women's basketball is going to be strong and bright.

As fans of the Storm, we are the choir for Mr. Serrill's brand of preaching. We know the truth - we already follow the professional, international, collegiate and yes high school levels of women's basketball. For those outside the choir, this film has the potential to soundly answer and quiet those in the press and in the sportsfan world who think the women's game is somehow lesser than the men's, or worse, those who go out of their way to insult and belittle the sport and the players.

Anyone who sees this documentary will come to know what we know. I view this film the same way as I view a pair of courtside tickets for a Storm game — there is no way that once you've seen the game that up close and personal can you ever say that it is not physical, demanding and ultimately as entertaining as any other form of basketball. Furthermore, once you've sat in those seats, or watched this film, if you're not a fan then you can't call yourself a real sports fan.

This film needs our support, both in spreading the word and helping Ward Serrill get it edited and distributed — which means monetary donations. As I understand it, he is nearing completion and any donations will go directly to finishing the film. The Storm are supporting the film, and Ward plans to submit it to the Sundance Film Festival on its way to a national release.

A few years ago, the documentary "Hoop Dreams" opened up the world of men's high school basketball for the first time. "The Heart of the Game" will do the same for women's basketball and perhaps more. Go to the website, contribute what you can, and let others know about this film. It could be a huge step in legitimizing the sport we all love.

http://www.heartofthegame.org