March 15, 2012

Former Stonehill Player Producing Documentary "113 Days"

by Mark Macyk |

Current Stonehill players, such as Heather Sullivan, gave former Sky Hawk Katie Shannon the OK to follow the 2012 team all season for a documentary titled "113 Days."
© Stonehill 

Stonehill's 12-11 win over Dowling last week could have provided the perfect ending to a sports movie. It featured the Sky Hawks overcoming a four-goal deficit as old and new players came together to avenge a crushing loss from the previous season. To add to the moment there was a national-championship winning former player on the sideline coaching and another on the sideline filming it all.

But in the upcoming documentary "113 Days," that game will fall somewhere near Act I.

The film, produced by Thompson Films founder Katie Shannon, who won an NCAA championship as a player at Stonehill in 2003, will chronicle the Stonehill women's lacrosse team as it works its way through the Division II season and toward the NCAA playoffs.

"The basic premise is just to showcase their entire season and showcase the new generation of players as they make a footprint in the school's history," Shannon said. "I was coaching for the past five years and I knew I was going to focus on filmmaking. It came into my head to combine the two. Stonehill was my only choice."

Great idea, great choice. But would the Stonehill players be eager to have their every moment captured on film?

"There were more reservations than anything else," said Stonehill coach Katie Conover, who played with Shannon at Stonehill and also won an NCAA title in '03. "When [Shannon] came here my first reaction was 'Yeah, that sounds awesome. We'll do whatever we can.' Because I'd do anything for her. To be honest I never through it would get approved."

It did get approved. Come preseason the crew was ever-present. While Stonehill's coaching staff had some reservations, the players were on board right away.

"If there was one kid out of 24 that doesn't feel comfortable we're not gonna do it,'" Conover said. "We told them to really think about it. The cameras are gonna be there win or lose. You're gonna let in a game-winning goal or a turnover and the cameras are going to be there. Are you ready?"

After the first day, Conover said, the team didn't even notice the crew was there.

Part of that is its size. There's just three of them working on the film and though they're always there, they stay out of the way as much as possible. And having Shannon, who coached at Division III Emerson and Pomona-Pitzer, at the helm certainly helps.

"It has zero impact on the lacrosse end of what we do," Conover said. "You watch a reality show and you know it's staged. [Shannon] never says 'Let's do this.' My first reaction was, 'Are you sure this is what you're looking for.' It's what we do every day. It's second nature. But she gave us a sneak peak and it's awesome."

It seems a perfect time for "113 Days." A sports documentary, "Undefeated," that chronicles the season of a Tennessee high school football team, won the Academy Award for best documentary this year. The US Lacrosse-endorsed film "Crooked Arrows," opens this spring. Add that to the upcoming 40th anniversary of Title IX and a sports documentary about women's lacrosse seems like a slam dunk. Or, in this case, a free position shot.

The film will also give people an inside look at the world of Division II. Stonehill plays one of the toughest schedules in the country so top teams like Le Moyne, Adelphi, C.W. Post, Rollins and New Haven will all get a chance to impact the direction of the film.

"Am I concerned C.W. Post is in their locker room saying 'Who is Stonehill lacrosse?' and coming out firing more?" Conover said. "They probably will. [But] it's about all of Division II. About putting Division II and women's sports on the map. Any way we can promote D-II lacrosse is good. We all know why we chose Division II. It's something people need to know more about."

The built-in drama of Division II's structure, where every game could knock a team out of the playoff race, is the perfect antagonist.

Stonehill has won two NCAA titles, but missed the playoffs last year in the highly-competitive North region where eight top 15 teams are currently battling for three postseason spots.

"It's not just about Stonehill lacrosse," Conover said. "We're not sitting here on a pedestal thinking we're better than anybody. It was opportunity brought to us. We chose to do it because we love Katie Shannon, but we wanted to promote the sport. We wanted to promote the Northeast-10 and Division II lacrosse. That's our priority."

Shannon said it would provide a perfect ending if Stonehill won it all again. Regardless, the film will be memorable for those involved.

"If someone had chronicled or national championship team that would be amazing to have on film," Shannon said. "This is something this senior class will have for the rest of their lives."

Added Conover: "As a former athlete, what I would do to be able to have something like this. It's such a gift to these kids that they'll have for a lifetime and share it with their husbands and children who didn't get a chance to see them as an athlete."

Thompson Films is looking to raise $45,000 to continue production of the film. Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation hereTo keep up with production of the film you can check or follow them on Facebook at 113 days and Twitter @113Days.

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