If you go

What: “Coaches’ Wives”

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: $13 plus fees

Contact: www.towertheatre.org or 541-317-0700

The secret to being a successful coach goes beyond the playbook — which might be left sitting on the kitchen counter were it not for the coach’s humble spouse.

Just ask independent filmmaker Jonathan Moore, who identifies himself as “the son of a coach and a coach’s wife,” in a voiceover near the opening of his new documentary, “Coaches’ Wives.”

Moore spent his Kentucky childhood immersed in sports — his father coached basketball, football, tennis, golf and cross country at the high school level. “And I grew up in the middle of it all, a shy little boy in the chaotic life of a coaching family,” he adds in the narrative voiceover.

Moore played basketball himself in college. His familiarity with the sports world lends a unique perspective and intimacy to the 75-minute film, which will make its Northwest premiere Saturday at the Tower Theatre in Bend.

“I grew up in the gym and on the field, and so for the first, gosh, 25 or 30 years of my life, I didn’t really know anything but athletics and coaching and basketball and football, and that was my life,” Moore said last week. “A lot of people expected me to be a coach, and to go into coaching like my dad. I just didn’t do it. I still love sports, but coaching’s not for me.”

Rather, “I got the bright idea to chase the dream of being a filmmaker,” he said. “And so this project is sort of the marriage of those two things.”

Moore said that it was only after reaching adulthood that he realized how crucial his mother’s role was “to the family, and also to my dad’s job,” he said. “When you’re younger, you take your mom for granted sometimes.”

Interestingly, Moore’s project began as a documentary about the sons and daughters of coaches, “but the conversations kept coming back to our mothers and what they had done and all the sacrifices they’d made along the way to be married to a coach,” he said. “And I thought, ‘You know, that’s my story, right there.’”

Having grown up in a sports family, Moore confesses the process of making his film didn’t necessarily lead to any personal epiphanies.

“My mom was a coach’s wife for 35 years, so it’s not like I came upon a bunch of new revelations,” he said. “But one thing that really stood out to me is there’s sort of an irony in being married to a coach and the perceptions of a coach’s wife. A lot of people think that the coach’s wife is sort of subservient. She’s in the background. She’s there to support her husband, who’s in the limelight, and she’s the support cast.”

Some of that may be true, or at least appear so on a surface level, he said, “what a lot of people outside that business don’t understand, ironically, is that the typical coach’s wife is incredibly independent, very self-motivated and very strong and resilient. She’s not just in the background. She’s helping her husband behind the scenes in so many ways that they don’t know.”

Case in point: His father, Nelson Moore, relied heavily on wife Joanna Moore for the everyday matters of life.

“He couldn’t remember to take out the trash half the time,” Jonathan Moore said. “He had to be reminded to do that. Or, ‘Nelson, those socks don’t match with those pants,’ because he was thinking about football plays or something like that.”

While personal experience informs some of the film, it by no means makes up the bulk. Moore spoke to more than a dozen significant others of men who coach at the high school, college and professional levels, including Jeanie Buss, fiancée of New York Knicks president Phil Jackson.

In the trailer for the film (view it at coacheswivesdoc.com,) Jeanne Janzen says the challenging parts of husband Dennis Janzen’s work as a college women’s volleyball coach induce a kind of “seasonal widowhood.”

“Coaches’ Wives” officially drops Jan. 16, but Bend audiences have the opportunity to see it a full week in advance. Moore, a professor of cinema arts at Vanguard University in Southern California, will be on hand at the Tower to discuss his film with the audience after the screening.

If you’re wondering why he didn’t include husbands of coaches, Moore addressed that in a follow-up email: “I absolutely considered talking to some coaches’ husbands,” he said, adding that he knows plenty of them from his life in sports. However, in order “to keep the scope and focus of the film from getting too broad,” he decided to focus solely on women. “While I have no plans to do it — I think someone could potentially do another film or something about this very topic.”

Count Ray Solley, executive director of the Tower Theatre Foundation, the nonprofit that operates the theater, among the fans of “Coaches’ Wives.” With the college football championship kicking off Monday in Arizona, football is very much on people’s minds, he said.

“People are thinking sports, people are thinking about coaching, people are thinking about the competition at sort of the high, marquee level,” he said, “and this is sort of the untold story about what happens and what goes on to … support those people.”

That much being said, “It’s not really about sports. That’s just the vehicle,” Moore said. “This is a film that’s about anybody that’s married to a workaholic, anybody that’s married to someone that’s gone a lot, anybody that’s dating someone that has a job they’re passionate about, and … learning how to get up every day and know that that person is going to be gone for 12, 15, 18 hours a day, and knowing how to deal with that — and not just dealing with it, but embracing it.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0349, djasper@bendbulletin.com

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