Paly documentary places first in state; second in the nation

Natalie Neumann

Editor’s note: The author of this article is related to one of the creators of the movie.

Long Shot,” a sports documentary made by Paly students, is celebrating placing first in California and second in the nation for the Video Sports Story category from the National Federation of Press Women

“Long Shot” tells the story of the 2006 Paly boys’ basketball team and their journey to winning a Division II state title. 

Satterthwaite reads out a response for the live Q&A after the premiere of the “Long Shot” documentary in the Palo Alto High School Haymarket Theater. “Long Shot”, a documentary made by three former Paly students, tells the story of the 2006 Paly boys’ basketball team and their journey to winning a Division II state title.  “I’ve never had a student, or a group of students do a project like this that’s outside of class,” Satterthwaite said. (Photo: Paul Neumann).

Coached by Peter Diepenbrock and led by Jeremy Lin — who went on to play professionally on the New York Knicks as well as other teams in the NBA and overseas — the team had one goal: win a state championship. 

However, they seldom had anyone believing in them; most people thought they wouldn’t make it far in the playoffs. Nevertheless, they continued to win games and made it to the championship where they faced off against the heavily favored Ana Mater Dei. 

Mater Dei’s roster consisted of players who were 6-foot-7 or taller, making it a typical David vs. Goliath story. 

“Long Shot” depicts the resilience and perseverance of the basketball team, who against all odds won the title.

The documentary, created by former Palo Alto High School students Nikie Behal, Max Bonnstetter and Emily Neumann, was part of an independent project created with the help of the school’s resources.

With guidance from Paly’s broadcast adviser Rodney Satterthwaite and an innovation grant from the school’s MAC Booster program, Behal, Bonnstetter and Neumann reached out to the coaches and players involved and were able to retrieve NBA footage. 

According to Satterthwaite, between issues with coordinating interviews and working around the restraints of the pandemic, the students were faced with many challenges while making the documentary. 

“It [the process] started pre-COVID,” Satterthwaite said. “They kept running into issues like trying to coordinate getting Jeremy Lin to be a part of it. Then he got COVID, so there were all these obstacles.”

Satterthwaite said “Long Shot” took almost a year to create, and as a 30-minute documentary is one of the longest video productions done at Paly. 

“I’ve never had a student or group of students do a project like this that’s outside of class,” Satterthwaite said. 

Betty Packard, chair of California High School communication contests, said “Long Shot” impressed her with its quality and the relatively short time frame it was created in.  

“I’ve been running this contest for almost 40 years and it’s the best one I’ve seen,” Packard said. “Of all the sports videos I’ve seen, this one is just far and above, and I was just really impressed.”

Bonnstetter, who played a major part in conducting interviews for the documentary, said he is excited to have the story of the basketball team reach more people. 

“Our goal with this project is to share this amazing story,” Bonnstetter said. “It is great to see it come together the way we envisioned it and for it to get recognition.” 

Bonnstetter said the documentary represents more than just their hard work; it also demonstrates the strength of Paly’s journalism program.

“I hope it [the documentary] goes to show that there are great resources and opportunities available at Paly,” Bonnstetter said. “All it takes is some creative thinking and willingness to stay consistent with a project and you can accomplish great things.”

Satterthwaite said Behal, Bonnstetter and Neumann’s drive to create this documentary allowed them to finish.  

“I think what kept the three of them ultimately on track is they had a super big passion for this project,” Satterthwaite said. “They wanted to tell the story, so they wanted to make it happen.”

Satterthwaite said he is extremely proud of his students for their work and is grateful to have it recognized not only at a state level, but at a national level as well. 

“You make something not for awards, you make it because you want to tell the story,” Satterthwaite said. “But for them to also get recognized is amazing.”

“The broadcasting program has always played second fiddle to the print program here,” Satterthwaite said. “Part of that is because we’ve never sort of really upped the game to start winning awards at a national level, and so this [“Long Shot”] does that in so many ways.”

Satterthwaite said “Long Shot” has become a great example of the kind of high-quality work the broadcasting program should produce. 

“This [“Long Shot”] is what we should be striving for,” Satterthwaite said. “Now, we’re national award winners. We got to step up again. We have to rise to the occasion.”

The award results were announced on May 17. More information can be found at