Friday, June 21, 2024

‘Driven to Win’ documentary film perfectly encapsulates WHS boys’ basketball’s state championship season

By Matt Pascarella

2022 Windham graduate Cole Washburn was with the 2023-2024 Windham varsity boys’ basketball team through much of their journey to become the first-ever Windham team to win a state championship. Washburn captured many of those key moments and coupled with interviews, created “Driven to Win,” a documentary that was shown at Windham High School on Friday, June 14. The team also received their championship rings on that night.

Windham High graduate Cole Washburn created
a documentary 'Driven to Win' chronicling 
Windham's successful boys' basketball team
as they won its first-ever state championship
during the 2023-2024 season. The documentary
was shown at Windham High School on
Friday, June 14.
“It brought me right back to the moments; it was really special,” said Windham senior Erik Bowen. “Cole knocked it out of the park he did such an amazing job capturing really the whole season, the championship games and the final celebration. It gives me goosebumps again, just seeing it all makes me miss basketball season. The time has already gone fast from when we won. A bunch of us out there were tearing up in the crowd, it just shows how special this team really is.”

When Washburn was a sophomore at Windham High School, he was planning to play lacrosse in the spring of 2020, but COVID-19 cancelled that season. So, Washburn picked up the camera and started taking photos and making videos; it grew into something he loved doing and didn’t feel like work.

Washburn had always followed the basketball team and was home for winter break from Thomas College where he is majoring in entrepreneurship. He saw the team was on a bit of a run and showed up to a few games. He used his footage to put up clips online. He followed them through the playoffs and once they became Windham’s first-ever basketball state champions, it was obvious to Washburn he could make a documentary and tell a really cool story about the team and their season.

“It means a lot,” said Windham senior Quinton Lindsay. “I’m glad people came out to support us one last time. All these guys are like brothers to me; the coaches, we’re all just one big family and I’ll never forget this season. I hope I can see all these people next year at the games, it’s going to be amazing.”

For many players, their season is anything but a distant memory.

According to Windham senior Matt Searway, it felt good for him to be reunited with the team again and to have the community’s support made it feel like the season all over again. Searway says he would do anything to relive that season and he considers it the best few months of his life.

Although it was a lot of work, it was fun for Washburn to make and he’d definitely do it again. There was a very special moment in the documentary when the team celebrated with Windham parent Pat Moody as he rang a bell indicating he was officially cancer-free. It was met with a roar of applause from the crowd.

“This past year was a whirlwind of emotions and I had to look away from the screen to keep my composure during the premiere viewing when the documentary featured the team rallying around me,” said Moody. “Being fueled by love, maintaining a positive mindset and grinding to win can get you through adversity on the court, or in my case, battling cancer. I couldn’t be more proud of AJ and his teammates, the coaches and the way this community rallied around the team and my family. A year of gratitude and achievements beyond my dreams.”

Windham varsity basketball coach Chad Pulkkinen says he will use this past season as a blueprint for upcoming seasons. He’s already begun practices for the summer season and had a larger-than-usual turnout.

“I was watching all Cole’s videos, the highlights that he put online and smiled every single time,” said Pulkkinen. “It meant a lot; it was incredible to see the community continue to support and celebrate something so special.”

A new season brings new challenges and new opportunities and just like this team left their mark, it’s time for another group to write their story.

“It was so much fun going to the games; it was crazy,” said Washburn. “How good the team was and how much fun they were to film; to sit there courtside and film a team this good at a place where I went to school for four years was awesome to see and I’m glad I got to document it.”

This documentary is now available for viewing on YouTube. <

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