Do you realize that the University of Houston Cougars football team is currently undefeated? With a 9-0 standing in the American Athletic Conference, when the Cougars face the 8-1 Memphis Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 14, on the John O’Quinn Field at TDECU Stadium, it is under the guidance of new Head Coach Tom Herman that they defend their undefeated record. The TDECU stadium, completed in 2014, seats 40,000 fans and cost $120 million to construct and features a state-of-the-art 5,000 square foot home locker room. Substantial gifts and donations by loyal alumni made possible the recruitment of some of the most outstanding players, primarily from the state of Texas. And two Houston natives, Alex and Whitney Douglas, have just garnered three Lone Star Emmys for their direction, editing (sports), and photography (sports), produced and directed by their company, Sculpting with Time Productions (SWT). atombash.com spoke with the dynamic Douglas team to learn more about how the film came about.
“Head football coach Tom Herman was so gracious with his access to his team and their practice sessions,” said Whitney. “He allowed us to come in, observe and film practices, and we could visit with the athletes first, getting to know them, so that our cameras were not a distraction.” Alex noted, “this was not our first foray into sports, but we’re delighted with the Lone Star EMMY outcome, especially for the sake of UH.” Alex’s experience in working on a few Emmy award-winning sports films with other companies was put to good use. Alex said, “I wrote a script, having seen that Coach Herman’s commitment and dedication to his athletic program parallels our (Sculpting with Time’s) passion for creating a product that captures the essence of the transformation in athletics the school had prepared for.”
The film (see accompanying video) manages to showcase Coach Herman’s secret ingredient for their currently undefeated record. “It’s individual and team pride among the players,” said Whitney. “We saw for ourselves the way the players were working hard already, in 100F typical Texas heat, and when Coach Herman addressed them about team pride, their eyes lit up, they were on fire, and they acted in unison.” To consider that concept, acting in unison, it’s one of the most important variables that defines an athletic team’s success. It’s not about an individual hero, sound bytes, or singling out a quarterback. It’s all about team. “We were compelled by this story, how you can have players running up and down stadium steps in grueling heat, and then at the top, they stand and survey their city from the top of TDECU stadium,” said Alex.
Indeed two of the most poignant scenes in the seven-minute film, “The UH Football Experience” show the players silently standing together, staring at the massive glass-lined skyscrapers that define the Houston skyline, and believing the weight of the words of Tom Herman. In the film, you hear Herman insisting to the players that their self-talk is “I will not be beaten on this rep; you will not move me, I will move you” every rep, every practice, which he drills in until it’s second nature in their game play. Players speak of”sacrifice, pain, and joy”–“you wrote every page so that you could make your mark today.” “Everything you’ve waited for, everything you’ve worked for, it’s led you to this–this very moment. What will you do with it?” Holding up a WWF Championship belt as motivator, Herman has no trouble at all communicating his vision to his players. Their current record speaks for the results of the coach’s motivation.
Hometown and state pride built this currently undefeated program, whose impact upon the entire school has helped a once high-quality commuter school into now what’s considered one of the best representatives of higher education in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The primary reason for UH’s growth is the exemplary leadership of Chancellor and President, Dr. Renu Khator. It’s not that Dr. Khator broke all barriers as a woman who is both Chancellor and President of a state university, nor that she’s a distinguished researcher and authority on global environmental policy. Dr. Khator realized that what needed to happen at U of H was to foster a culture and environment for the school as a powerhouse on every level, and that included athletics. In 2011, UH became “a Tier One university, with the Carnegie Foundation elevating it into the top category of research universities.”
Dr. Khator also realized that football excellence was a major factor in inculcating a sense of a student’s belonging to a school, with their consideration of “our team,” “my team,” “our school,” and “my school.” The cinematography of “The UH Football Experience” is magnificent as the pictures do most of the speaking interspersed with meaningful words at just the right time. If you’re a five-star player in Texas, the University of Houston and the American Athletic Conference are equally as appealing as the SEC’s Texas A&M University and the Big 12 Conference of the University of Texas at Austin.
Although the film “The UH Experience” is intended as a football recruiting film, which took eight months to create, it serves as an accurate portrayal of how the athletes feel about who they are in relation to their school. They are not just the University of Houston, says Coach Herman. “We are Houston,” the city, largest in the state and fourth-largest in the nation. So, too, are the goals for excellence at every level as showcased in the film. No wonder then that it received distinction among the Lone Star EMMY Chapter, which includes professionals out of 19 television markets, for directing, editing, and photography. Sculpting with Time’s own “Team Douglas,” truly captured Coach Tom Herman and the University of Houston Cougar football team, now on its way to even greater distinction in the record books this weekend. Come for the football games, visit their libraries, tour their research labs, and then see what all the buzz is about at UH. It all starts with your ticket into the John O’Quinn Field at TDECU stadium.