(Pictured above left to right: Jailen Young, Teague Berres, Jamario Rowe and Jaquan Rhodes.)
When it comes to North Huntsville you never really get an accurate depiction of what goes on. You would believe North Huntsville is a dangerous place with the notoriety it usually receives in the news and media. Although for directors Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer they were able to not fall into this belief about North Huntsville. After spending half a year in North Huntsville and recording over 600 hours of footage, Herbert and Belfer were able to create the most heart-touching story of North Huntsville through their documentary "Wrestle."
You may look at the title and say to yourself why give a documentary this title? It is pretty obvious once you watch the film. For the main characters Jaquan Rhodes, Teague Berres, Jamario Rowe, and myself Jailen Young who are driven by a young demanding and dedicated history teacher Chris Scribner (Scrib) in his toughest school year. To add some don't even believe this school can grow a wrestling team. For Scrib he has the belief that this years team has a big chance at punching their ticket to be state champions even though the most experienced wrestler has only wrestled 2 1/2 years. It also becomes tough to believe that will happen with the challenges the main characters face. All four of the main characters attend a high school that has recently been placed on the Alabama failing school's list. Individually Rowe deals with teenage pregnancy and mental setbacks. Rhodes and myself both deal an absent parent and run-ins with Alabama police that one wrestle sees it as "some black lives matter sh-t!" And for Berres who denies taking his medicine finds himself skipping lots of school to partake in less-than-honorable activities.
Some of Huntsville would leave you with that story of the main characters. But for the directors and editor Pablo Proenza they were able to turn this into a "rose in the concrete story." You would more than likely have heard about the roses that grew in the toughest part of Huntsville of it was not for this editing crew. The sport of wrestling was only the glue for this movie but was not the central point of this documentary. What the editing crew was able to do was show how poverty and racial inequalities in the north Huntsville were daring factors for the main characters. This documentary was not much of a sob story but an eye-opener about how America fails to present itself to ones who need their help the most.
It would be shocking for some to know that with the cards set against the four main characters that they were able to prevail in some shape. For Rhodes and myself being able to attend college on scholarships after graduating from a failing high is the story you don't hear. For Rowe to be the first in his family to graduate high school and attend community college and work to provide for his daughter is what you won't hear. Or for Teague who still deals with behavioral issues but is determined to get his GED after dropping out is the story some of Huntsville won't tell but the film crew was brave enough to dive into. These stories are common in North Huntsville but some would never know. Long live those roses in North Huntsville that grew when no one else cared.