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Women, Sport,
and Film - 2003


On Serendip

Begin at the beginning... (Prologue): The film takes place in the current day, year 2010, in the typical New England town of Nordson. The town's local high school has a strong focus on sports; indeed, there is a sports team for every season. Contrary to what one might think, for every boy's team there is a girl's. The teenagers of both sexes are encouraged to participate in athletic events. High school life and activities proceed as normal in the moderately conservative area. That is, until Andrea Boisvert moved with her family to Nordson in the middle of her freshman year.

Andrea had been generally well liked in her school back home in Connecticut. She is just an average person: not too pretty, not too plain, a B+ student. Andrea had been a member of her school's yearbook staff and the swim team. When she moves to Nordson she is delighted to find that her new high school had both activities. She settles in quickly to the routine of class, practice, and meetings. She makes friends and life proceeded as usual. But Andrea has a secret. She is gay.

Cut to junior year: Andrea has formed strong friendships with both Kay and Julie, next-door neighbors who are also key members of the swim team. By this time, they have both noticed that Andrea does not talk about which boys she has a crush on, does not go out on dates, and on the whole seems ambivalent about the male sex. So when Andrea feels that she knows them well enough to trust them with her secret, their thoughts are confirmed. Neither Julie nor Kay is upset by this news in any way—Andrea is a dear friend. However, the conversation occurs in Julie's house, and her mother Mae overhears. Julie's mother is horrified. She is an extremely narrow-minded woman, and homosexuality in her mind is a sin. She cannot bear the thought of her daughter changing in the same locker room as a lesbian or swimming in the same water. Mae forbids Julie to consort with Andrea in any way, and announces her intention to go to the headmaster of the school to demand that Andrea be removed from the team.

Julie, being a faithful friend, immediately tells Andrea and Kay what her mother intends to do. The trio is unsure of any course of action that they can take to prevent this. True to her word, Mae sets up an appointment with the headmaster. However, before she does, she spreads the news to other parents she knows so that the headmaster will face extreme social pressure as opposed to just her one voice. As rumor is wont to do, it is only a few days before the entire high school community is aware of Andrea's secret. While Andrea does suffer the repercussions of Mae's purposeful and hateful indiscretion from some of her fellow students, more are on the side of tolerance and acceptance. The day before Mae and those who feel the same as she are to meet with the headmaster, Andrea has a talk with her coach. Her coach tells Andrea that the vast majority of the swim team supports her and hopes that no unfair decision will be made. This is a great comfort to Andrea, who has been fearful that her teammates wanted her to be removed.

Mae and her compatriots meet with the headmaster. They put forth their demand—that Andrea be removed from the swim team because of the unhealthy influence she has on their daughters. They mention the influence they have over the school as tuition paying parents, taxpayers, and socially important people. They seem confidant that the headmaster is old-school and will see the logic and side with them. However, they are in for a shock. The headmaster informs them that each and every student has the right to equal opportunity in class and in extra curricular activities. He goes on to state that it is clearly against school and state policy to discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation. He tells the parents that Andrea's sexuality is not related to the school activities in which she participates. He further goes on to say that he will not be bullied or financially threatened into a decision that is unjust and that tolerance and acceptance of diversity are goals toward which that institution strives.

...and when you get to the end, stop (Epilogue): Since Mae was not successful in removing Andrea from the swim team, she does the next best thing. She withdraws her permission for Julie to swim and compete, and Julie, being a minor and still in need of parental consent, is forced to drop the team. One other girl also drops the team, but the rest of the members feel that Andrea's sexual orientation is simply not an issue. They welcome her at practice and the morale of the team is strong.

When the state swim championships come around soon afterwards, they are unified and work well individually and as a team. However, the team still suffers from losing Julie so near to the end of the season. Even though they try their hardest, the team loses the championship. Julie was not even permitted by her parents to go and cheer for her school. The movie closes with Andrea and Kay going back to Kay's house after the final meet and the pair is approached by Julie, who has sneaked out of her house to join them and discover the outcome of the meet.

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