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'We Are Marshall' coach to appear at film's screening

October 15, 2008

Jack Lengyel, the coach who rebuilt Marshall University’s football program after a tragic 1970 plane crash, will attend a screening of the film We Are Marshall at Arizona State University’s West campus. After the screening, at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30, Lengyel will participate in a question-and-answer session with audience members.

Sponsored by the ASU College of Human Services, the event is free and open to the public. It will be held in the La Sala Ballroom in the University Center Building at ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. (There is a fee for visitor parking on campus.)

Lengyel was portrayed by Matthew McConaughey in the 2006 film, which earned both critical and commercial success. The film, also starring Matthew Fox and David Strathairn, grossed more than $43 million at the box office.

According to critic Todd Gilchrist with IGN Movies, “We Are Marshall is a great film precisely because it’s equal-opportunity. The ‘we’ doesn’t just mean the people at Marshall University, or in the town surrounding the school. Rather, it’s everyone.” Frank Lovece of Film Journal International said the film “…uses football as a metaphor for church – a common place where, when tragedy occurs, a community can gather to express its cathartic pain and to give one another solace and strength.” Lovece called We Are Marshall “…vital and energetic, and not morose or preachy.”

In November 1970 a plane carrying almost the entire Marshall University football team, its staff and fans crashed, killing 75 people and devastating the small town of Huntington, W.Va. Lengyel was hired to take on the difficult task of rebuilding the football program. He served as Marshall’s head football coach from 1971 to 1974.

Lengyel later moved into administrative positions in the intercollegiate athletics field. He worked at universities including Louisville and Missouri, and also spent 13 years as director of athletics at the U.S. Naval Academy.

For more information about the Oct. 30 screening and discussion, contact Dan Turbyfill at (602) 543-6639 or