‘McFarland, USA’ Champions Deliver Positive Message to Students

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PHARR - Thousands of GEAR UP and migrant students were surprised when they got to meet the actual people depicted in the movie "McFarland, USA."

The film is based on the true story of a 1987 cross country team from McFarland, California. It stars Kevin Costner as Coach Jim White, the school’s coach who led the team to win a state championship.

Brothers David and Danny Diaz were on the winning team. Both were also migrant students.

The students said they were inspired by the special guests.

“The speech they did was really inspirational,” said Jaqueline Gonzalez from Veterans Memorial High School. “I'm a migrant student also and it's personal. We have gone through that, too. And also with GEAR UP, they have helped us a lot with education.”

Coach Jim White and the Diaz brothers travel the country to talk about the obstacles they have faced.

“The message is this: that if you work hard and if you have a dream that you can accomplish… (you can) become a champion in life,” Danny Diaz said.

Jesus Guevara told CHANNEL 5 NEWS what the speakers’ message meant to him.

“What it means to me is to never give up, to never let yourself down for what is going to be ahead of you,” Guevara said. “You’ve got to reach for what you want.”

David Diaz said anyone can persevere and accomplish their goals.

“We are living testimony and proof that the movie has a theme,” David Diaz said. “Champions can come from anywhere. If they came from McFarland, which is a minuscule, insignificant little town... they can come from wherever you are. Champions, indeed, can come from anywhere.”

The message was personal for most of the students.

"It touched my heart," said Ashley Marie Arredondo from Rio Grande City High. "In order to become someone… you want to work your way up to whatever you want to become in life."

"I know that I can achieve something that great, even if it's not the same thing," said Yasmin Villarreal from Mercedes High School. "Even if I put my mind to it, like they did, it's like they said, 'Attitude is what counts.'"

Teresa Lopez from Mercedes High said, "Somebody from nowhere can become somebody really important."

McFarland's Danny Diaz said, "The message is that we are coming from the fields, overcoming different obstacles, just a being from a poor family. If we can do it, anybody can do it."

You can catch GEAR UP segments on Thursdays on CHANNEL 5 NEWS at 5.