"Undefeated" Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

By Andy Meek

A documentary about one season in the football program at Manassas High School in North Memphis won an Academy Award Sunday night for best documentary feature.

“Undefeated” chronicles the highs and lows of what had been a struggling team at an inner-city school that at one point was so hard up for money it resorted to what from the outside might seem like a desperate move: The Manassas team was charging far better teams to beat it by wide margins so it could raise money for the season.

Bill Courtney, a Memphis businessman who owns lumber company Classic American Hardwoods, came on board as a volunteer coach of the football team in 2003. “Undefeated” chronicles the inspiring brand of tough love and leadership he brought to a team that slowly began to do something extraordinary – start believing in itself.

“Congrats to Oscar Winning FilmMakers Dan Lindsay, TJ McKay Martin and Coach Bill Courtney,” tweeted rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs Sunday night after “Undefeated” picked up its golden statute.

Combs was a producer of the film.

In an email a few hours after the big win, Courtney said simply, when asked how he felt, “Happy for the directors and the kids.”