Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
VILLANOVA, Pa. – Each fall, Villanova University hosts one of the largest Special Olympics competitions in the nation as thousands of athletes, coaches and volunteers come together to celebrate the culmination of countless months of training, hard work, building friendships and overcoming challenges both athletic and unique to living with intellectual disabilities.
Ten Villanova students from the Social Justice Documentary Film class followed the Delaware County 11 on 11 and 7 on 7 Special Olympics soccer teams for 15 weeks as the athletes grew and developed toward their ultimate goal of winning a gold medal at the Villanova Fall Festival. The end result, “Gold Mettle,” is a documentary short film that gives audiences a rare and inspirational look in to the daily challenges faced by those with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers, coupled with the tremendous sense of joy, accomplishment and friendship provided by Special Olympics.
“Gold Mettle” will debut to the public at 9 p.m., December 9 in the Villanova Room at the Connelly Center on Villanova’s main campus. Opening remarks from the student filmmakers will precede the film screening. More than 80 Special Olympics athletes, family members and friends, including those featured in the film, will be in attendance, as will Delaware County Councilman John McBlain, who will present a Delaware County resolution to the film students recognizing their work for social justice.
“A main goal for this film was to show the world who these athletes truly are, people with spectacular abilities that only need to be unleashed. Special Olympics allows these athletes to be themselves and reach their fullest potential,” said Nick Carney, student director of the film. “It was a privilege to have the athletes and their families allow us into their lives and tell us their stories. We hope that by opening themselves up to us, their stories will reveal to the world the impact these individuals can have on our lives if they are given the opportunity."
The documentary opens a window in to the daily lives, activities and relationships of the athletes whether at home, work, practice, or spending time with their friends and loved ones. Throughout weeks of filming, the Villanova students formed close relationships with the athletes as they gained a heightened sense of appreciation for their remarkable resiliency and unique gifts, as well as the power of Special Olympics to foster independence, motivation, and community.
“Gold Mettle was one of the most satisfying projects that we have worked on in the Social Justice Documentary Film program. The relationships formed between the athletes and our students is the great by-product of the filmmaking process,” said Steve McWilliams, director of the Social Justice Documentary Film program. “The film demonstrates the power of sport for social change. The athletes offered us a unique perspective on what it means to be successful on the fields of play.
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.