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The Real People of McFarland USA

The Real People of McFarland USA

Oct 08, 2017


Leonel Manzano

The Real people of McFarland USA-

You may remember the Disney Movie McFarland USA, the story about a high school cross country team who defied the odds. They had to work in the fields in the early morning and still had to find time to train in a rural community in California. The McFarland team went on to win various State Titles.

PC: Erik Aguilar

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to visit McFarland, California. It had been a trip that I had been meaning to take and we were finally able to make it happen!! As we showed up to the venue, there were already about 150 people ready to hear us speak and it was exciting to meet people of all ages and backgrounds.

It is also so commendable and inspiring to know that many of the McFarland runners/people worked their way from the bottom to being leaders of the community. Just to name a few, such as Coach Amador Ayon who is now one of the head coaches of McFarland, Johnny Samaneigo a local business owner and Thomas Valles who works in law enforcement. This shows exactly that when you work hard good things happen. And as we know that with great leadership also comes great responsibility. They continue to work hard to make the community a better place.

Left to Right: Thomas Valles, Leo, Coach Amador Ayon, Johnny Samaniego

It was amazing to differentiate between Hollywood fact and fiction. During my time in McFarland, Thomas and Johnny gave me a tour of the town. They drove me through different areas of the community where the movie had been filmed. If you remember one of their training locations at the almond hills, according to the runners they never trained there, as there were other better running locations. It was still a sight to see as there is so much work that goes into this type of farming which is also one of their main resources in McFarland. These are just a few of several hundred mounds.

In 2015, I also had the pleasure to attend the McFarland USA movie premiere. It was an awe inspiring experience rubbing elbows with the stars. Here is a photo of a few superstars.

Pictured Left to right, Leo, Kevin Costner, Meb Keflezighi, Jen Rhines.

The funnies:
Although I don’t have photo, at the movie premiere I do remember talking to the real Coach White. If you remember one of the last scenes in the movie where he is riding a girls bike into the sunset, he mentioned that it never happened but it made for a good Hollywood scene/movie.😄

With that I conclude, I hope you all enjoy!

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