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The story behind the making of ‘Lucky to Win a Game’

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Sunday the Wire debuted its documentary, “Lucky to Win A Game,” about the growth of the men’s lacrosse program from a startup to the NCAA Tournament in just five years. We spoke to the four executive producers of the project, Grant Becker, Brian Georgeson, Patrick Thomas and Matt Unger about how it all came together.

Jack Goods: I know you guys started this project before the lacrosse team won the BIG EAST Tournament. What was the idea for the documentary originally?

Patrick Thomas: Because lacrosse is a fairly new story and new to the campus, Matt suggested it. They were a new program that was doing well. It was going to be men’s and women’s originally. It was going to be the sport as a whole, but that’s too broad. We were just fortunate, I would say, to come across the fact that the team ended up winning the BIG EAST and going to the NCAA Tournament. It narrowed it down for us.

Grant Becker: The fact that they became one of the biggest stories in lacrosse that year changed the direction.

JG: So, I’m guessing when they won the BIG EAST, you must have been thrilled. Suddenly it became far more emotionally charged.

Matt Unger: Once they got there it completely changed the script of the story. It was like, “Wow, these guys are really actually good.”

GB: We were excited they won the BIG EAST because they found success so quickly, really concrete success. Not like they were almost there like the season before, where they had a nice little win streak and were ranked for a while. This was really something concrete that happened.

PT: It also gave us footage of the press conference (men’s head coach Joe Amplo’s emotional postgame press conference following the tournament game against North Carolina).

GB: Then the postgame press conference happened, and that gave us another element. There’s something new here. There’s something here beyond on-the-field success.

JG: We’ve mentioned the emotional press conference Amplo had. How helpful was it that the people you were dealing with were naturally pretty good on camera?

MU: Amplo was a driver of the story for sure. We interviewed him for an hour and a half and there were so many good quotes in there. I remember when we were going back and highlighting the transcriptions, there was a lot of stuff we wanted to use from him. B.J. (Grill) and Jake (Richard) were very good on camera and they showed emotion. The one scene, Jake literally looks across the camera pretending there’s someone there and says, “I’m playing for you. I love you.”

GB: It’s a good story whether or not those people are good or thoughtful on camera, but it makes it a great story and a really good watch. The most important thing was there were a number of times where we were exhausted on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. I was like, “I just want this work to be done.”  It was kind of the last thing we wanted to do, going into these interviews. Then they started and you start getting into it. You talk to (former players) Jake Richard, B.J. Grill, Liam Byrnes, (Deputy Athletic Director) Mike Broeker and (Associate Athletic Director – Compliance) Danielle (Josetti)  were really good too. Their emotion revived the project every time. They care about this so so much, from the top to the bottom.

Brian Georgeson: Even the people who weren’t in the Midwest — Corey (McLaughlin) and Terry (Foy), they had so much to talk about. They are die-hard about lacrosse, and so that lacrosse community has really been supportive of Marquette.

JG: How many hours do you think you guys put into this?

BG: It’s got to be over 100.

MU: I was thinking like 150 plus.

GB: I’d say in an average week, each person, between interview prep, transcription, editing, quote cutting, quote selecting, trimming, I would say each person would put in 16 plus hours. We had 15 fine cuts. We had 17 rough cuts.

MU: We were there 10 hours a day (in the last few weeks).

JG: Are you surprised by the response so far? The video has over 6,000 views in two days.

GB: I’m not surprised that it got a lot of views or got a lot of traction. We learned throughout how tight the lacrosse community was, especially after seeing the response from our first trailer last semester. I’ve gotten texts from friends of friends who go to different colleges, random people I’ve met one time, saying, “Hey man, that was really cool.” Random people on the internet have made me feel really good, and that’s kind of rare.

MU: People eat up lacrosse content because there’s not an abundance of it. ESPN covers lacrosse, but it’s not like they’re making “30 for 30s” on it often.

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2 Responses to “The story behind the making of ‘Lucky to Win a Game’”

  1. Stephen M. Saia, Liberal Arts 76 on February 9th, 2017 12:41 pm

    It was a thrill for me, as I am sure it was for many former high school and club lacrosse playing alumni from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, to see the sport finally established at Marquette, and to see it grow so rapidly in such a short length of time, culminating in the first ever appearance in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament. I look forward to many more seasons like that. The film captured all of that excitement and more. As a member of the student group that failed to get support from both the athletic department and corporporate sponsors to start a club lacrosse team in 1974, it was a vindication, of sorts,of our dedication to bring the sport to the Midwest. Kudos to the filmmakers who definitely captured what is best in the sport and in Marquette.


  2. Steve Estes on February 9th, 2017 5:03 pm

    Thank you for the fantastic video. I hope Coach Amp never leaves the program that he and his players created


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