12 Mighty Orphans Plot Synopsis
12 Mighty Orphans tells the story of real-life football coach Rusty Russell who moved with his family to Texas during the time of the Great Depression to work at The Masonic Home for Orphans. He was hired to be the boys’ maths teacher and sports coach but after learning of the horrific abuse they suffered at the hands of the home’s cruel warden Frank Wynn, Russell also became their friend and protector.
While at the orphanage, Russell, with the help of Doc, the home’s kindly physician, taught a small group of boys the intricacies of football. He turned them into a team, The Mighty Mites, and led them to the Texas High School State Championship, where they faced off against a team of schoolboys who were more privileged and stronger than they were.
Did the boys rise against the odds and win? Keep reading to learn more.
Were ‘The Mighty Mites’ a strong team?
Not initially, no, although this is hardly surprising. These boys had very troubled pasts so were already broken and dejected when Rusty formed the team. As the orphanage’s director didn’t stump up the cash to buy these boys’ football shoes, they also had to play in their bare feet, which was obviously problematic for the boys when trying to play the game.
Still, Rusty Russell, who was already a respected football coach, did what he could to instil hope and self-confidence into the young orphans. Slowly but surely, they began to gel as a team and get better at the game, despite a challenging start. Unfortunately, after overcoming their lack of talent and the necessary footwear, various other setbacks were put in their way before they earned a place in the championships.
What setbacks did ‘The Mighty Mites’ face?
One of the biggest setbacks the boys faced was the low opinion they had of themselves. Having been treated as rejects for most of their lives, they had to overcome their personal feelings about their own self-worth.
They also had to deal with Frank Wynn who didn’t agree with Rusty filling them with hope and passion. Frank regularly beat the boys with Bertha, his punishing cricket bat, and this broke their already low spirits even further.
Without proper shoes, sports equipment and a confident self-belief, learning how to play football didn’t come easy for the boys. But even when they did get better at the sport, there were further setbacks to come. To be admitted into the “Interscholastic League,” they had to pass a basic aptitude test, which some of them weren’t equipped for.
For those that did pass, they still faced scorn from competing football players and their coaches, so life on the field wasn’t easy when they finally got the opportunity to face off against other teams.
Did ‘The Mighty Mites’ win any games?
The Mighty Mites played their first match against the The Poly Parrots and lost. But despite being smaller and slimmer than many of the other players on the field, they did start to excel and win more games. This ragtag group of youngsters eventually made their way to the semi-finals and won, although their victory was not without cost. Fairbanks, one of their key players, suffered a nasty injury and had to be removed from the team.
As such, the Mighty Mites earned their place in the State Championships, but with only 11 players instead of the usual 12.
Did ‘The Mighty Mites’ win the State Championships?
The Mighty Mites had to face off against the Sandies in the State Championships, a team that was bigger not only in size but in stature too. They put up a good fight regardless, despite suffering injuries on the field when playing against these burlier players.
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, The Mighty Mites failed to score and the opposing team took the victory. But despite losing the match, these boys, whose chances of a bright future seemed slim only months before, achieved something much better than a football trophy. They gained a belief in themselves, which, for a team that started out with literally nothing, was more than they could ever have dreamed of.
Did the orphans go on to have good lives?
Yes, according to the information we receive as the end credits roll, many of the boys went on to have successful lives, despite the incredible hardships they had to endure when they were younger.
Rusty Russell can be credited for some of their future success as he inspired them to be better than they thought themselves to be, both on and off the field. One of the orphans, Hardy Brown, even went on to play for the Washington Redskins in the NFL.
Rusty went on to coach other teams and was eventually inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame.
Snivelling warden Frank Wiley didn’t have such a good life, however, as he eventually drowned while on a swimming excursion with some of the boys from the orphanage (this isn’t mentioned in the film). “God is on our side after all!” one of the boys apparently exclaimed after the demise of the wicked warden. Source.
Read More: 12 Mighty Orphans Movie Review
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