ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Grandin Theatre is set to host a premiere screening of a sports documentary directed by a Roanoke native this weekend.
The documentary is called “16” and it follows the emotional journey of the Penn State men’s lacrosse team in the wake of a tragedy.
Lacrosse is a familiar topic for Paddy Cotter, who comes from a sports-loving family. His sister, Kelsey, played lacrosse at Salem High School and Washington & Lee University.
But for Cotter, his passion is in telling sports stories, and he’s got a powerful one that’s set to debut on Saturday, June 19.
“For the first time as it relates to this project, I’m totally relaxed, this is the fun part,” Cotter said. “We get to share it.”
His movie might not be listed on the marquee of the Grandin Theatre, but on Saturday, the historic venue will be where Cotter gets to showcase his passion for sports and storytelling.
“I love sports. Total obsession, it’s pretty natural to get into sports storytelling realm,” Cotter said. “I was at Penn State doing everything I can to cover any sport I can and I got put on the Penn State lacrosse beat.”
It was the spring of 2017 and at the time, Penn State men’s lacrosse was on the rise. That’s when Cotter took note of a specific two digit number that carried a lot of weight on the team.
“The entire program was built around the number 16,” Cotter said. “And this team had an obsession with the number 16. I really wondered as a story teller how can I find the best way to tell this story.”
The number “16” was what Connor Darcey wore on his jersey. He was a Penn State goalkeeper who was killed in a car crash in 2015.
“Over the course of the next three years it was an incredible life changing experience where I learned so much about grief and what it means to be a teammate, what it means to be a brother,” Cotter said.
While “16” isn’t the first sports documentary Cotter has worked on, it’s his first under the production company, Opening Statement Productions, that he started from scratch.
“It was difficult being a new filmmaker and having to learn all the things that go into documentary film making because you’re dealing with real life. You’re dealing with real life emotions, real life things, you’re having to build real life trust with these people.”
After trimming hours of footage and interviews down to 68 minutes, Cotter is ready to show the world a story that’s meant the world to him and Penn State lacrosse.
“This is the really really fun part of sharing it with my local community, sharing with my family, sharing it with some people in the documentary,” Cotter said. “This is what it’s all about and having it in Roanoke is a total dream come true.”
“16” premieres at the Grandin Theatre on Saturday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m. and will feature a Q&A session with filmmaker Paddy Cotter after the screening. For tickets, visit the Grandin Theatre’s website here.