On Saturday, August
27, 2005, the John Curtis Patriots met for a grueling practice in the
late summer New Orleans sun, the air a visible fog of humidity. They had
pulled off a 19-0 shutout in their preseason game the night before,
but it was a game full of dumb mistakes. Head coach J. T. Curtis was
determined to drill those mistakes out of them before their highly
anticipated next game, which sportswriters had dubbed “the Battle of the
Bayou” against a big team coming in all the way from Utah. As fate
played out, that afternoon was the last time the Patriots would see one
another for weeks; some teammates they’d never see again. Hurricane
Katrina was about to tear their lives apart.
The Patriots are a most
unlikely football dynasty. There is a small, nondescript, family-run
school, the buildings constructed by hand by the school’s founding
patriarch, John Curtis Sr. In this era of high school football as big
business with 20,000 seat stadiums, John Curtis has no stadium of its
own. The team plays an old-school offense, and Coach Curtis insists on a
no-cut policy, giving every kid who wants to play a chance. As of 2005,
they’d won nineteen state championships in Curtis’s thirty-five years
of coaching, making him the second most winning high school coach ever.
Curtis has honed to a fine art the skill of teaching players how to
transcend their natural talents. No screamer, he strives to teach kids
about playing with purpose, the power of respect, dignity, poise,
patience, trust in teamwork, and the payoff of perseverance, showing
them how to be winners not only on the gridiron, but in life, and making
boys into men. Hurricane Katrina would put those lessons to the test of
Hurricane Season is the story of a great coach,
his team, his family, and their school—and a remarkable fight back from
shocking tragedy. It is a story of football and faith and of the
transformative power of a team that rises above adversity, and above its
own abilities, to come together again and prove what they’re made of.
It is the gripping story of how, as one player put it, “football became
my place of peace.” Download and start listening now!