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Sossaman Teacher Goes Extra Mile to Motivate Students Follow Their Dreams


McFarland USA Group Photo


Brennan Hallock, a Spanish teacher and cross-country coach at Sossaman Middle School, went the extra mile to motivate students to follow their dreams.

After introducing his Spanish II classes to McFarland, USA, and seeing how this film inspired his students, Mr. Hallock reached out to the real-life runners depicted in the film. This message led to Mr. Hallock traveling to McFarland, California, over fall break to learn more about this inspirational story and apply this experience to his own teaching. 

Mr. Hallock introduced his class to McFarland, USA, in May of 2021. The film is based on an inspirational and true story of a cross-country coach, Jim White, who transforms a team of athletes in a small economically challenged town in California into championship contenders. Additionally, the film depicts cultural lessons that students have been taught in Spanish I and Spanish II, which demonstrate the life of a Mexican-American in this region of California.

“I wanted my students to see this film for the obvious academic relevance, but also because of the life lessons taught in the film,” Hallock said. “Students watched this film and they saw that a champion could come from anywhere. They saw that heroes are all around us; it could be your neighbor, your friend, your mom or dad. They saw that heroes build up others and their community. The conversations we had about life and what defines success were some of the best I have had in my career.” 

After seeing how affected his students were by the film, Mr. Hallock reached out to one of the runners letting him know how this story impacted his students and his own journey as a cross-country coach. Mr. Hallock added that he wanted to see their school and cross-country team. He received a response that same day, which led him to traveling to McFarland on Sept. 30th.

“It was pretty amazing,” Mr. Hallock said. “In the weeks leading up to my meeting in McFarland, I expected to only meet the one runner I had reached out to. About a day before I was leaving Arizona to go to California, I received a message that another runner had agreed to meet. When I got to McFarland High School, I was shocked when I entered the lobby and was greeted by Coach White and four of the runners from the 1987 team.”

Mr. Hallock added that of the 1987 team members that he met with, one of the members was now the current head coach for the cross-country team at McFarland High School.

“Each of these team members from the 1987 team has done tremendous things for their community,” he said. “They are teachers, school counselors, coaches, and school administrators. I love that they are building their community and helping the next generation. Each one of them was gracious and kind.”

During the tour, Mr. Hallock was shown the gym, track and field, school, and around town where their team trained and filmed the movie. He was also taken to a few landmarks.

Although the trip was only for one day, Mr. Hallock said that he hopes this experience and the lessons he learned will help motivate students to pursue their goals.

“I’m going to tell my kids to keep dreaming,” Mr. Hallock said. “I never thought in a million years that I would receive an answer from the email I sent asking to meet with the McFarland runner and to see the school, but I did hear back. If I can instill in my students the idea that dreaming is okay and to shoot for the stars, I will be thrilled.

Imagine how many amazing things we can do if we are willing to put ourselves out there and ask. That’s what I hope my kids do. I hope they try for things that are unthinkable and are amazed when things turn out better than they ever imagined.”