Tim Stirneman tried keeping the real purpose of his project a secret for as long as possible.
During Marian Central’s 2012 football season, there always were extra cameras filming, there were players doing interviews. Stirneman told players and other people around the Hurricanes’ program it was for his son, Kurtis, who played left tackle on the offensive line and committed to NCAA Division I Western Michigan over the summer.
By not knowing their season was being made into a documentary, Tim Stirneman figured players’ reactions would be more genuine and candid.
“If there were only rumors about what was going on, it would be easier and would not steer the filming in an unnatural way,” said Stirneman, who owns All Smiles Dental in Algonquin. “I am happy to report that the strategy described served us well.”
Stirneman’s project “The Marian Central Hurricanes: One Team, One Dream, One Heartbeat,” will be shown at Crystal Lake Showplace Theater at 7 p.m. Monday. About 250 of the 400 tickets have been sold, so there are still chances to get the $5 tickets.
The idea was hatched from Kurtis Stirneman’s junior season, when Tim had a video crew get game film for recruiters. As it turned out, Kurtis was well-known and didn’t need extra help in his recruitment. He later decommitted from Western Michigan after it switched coaches and signed in February with Wyoming.
But the process got Tim Stirneman thinking about Kurtis’ senior year.
“Why don’t we film the whole season?” he said. “I thought it would be nice to have some kind of thing they could see and think, ‘Hey, I was a part of this.’ What a cool way to end the year. Like, ‘Let’s get back together one more time before you all go your separate ways.’ It’s going to be fun.”
Marian was loaded. Many people thought the Hurricanes could win the Class 5A state championship with Stirneman, defensive end Liam Kirwan, quarterback Chris Streveler and others leading the way. They were ranked No. 1 most of the season before eventually losing to their nemesis, Montini, in the Class 5A state quarterfinals. It was the fourth consecutive year the Broncos eliminated Marian, and no doubt the toughest to take.
“When we first put this together, we didn’t know how far they would go,” Tim Stirneman said. “When they didn’t win, it was, ‘OK, what do we do?’ The story wasn’t about them winning the state title, it was about their work and about the way they bonded together and the unity they had.”
Stirneman hired Malachi Leopold from Left Brain Right Brain Productions to produce the documentary. Leopold said, to his knowledge, no person had ever done what Tim Stirneman wanted to do before.
“These kids are so bonded through this experience that they share,” Leopold said. “Whether it be the grind of hitting the practice field every single day and doing the same thing over and over and over again, or just the experience of the challenge of going together as one united team with a singular purpose week in and week out.”
Leopold believes the film will really bring out the unity factor.
“You see behind the scenes how we all work together as a team and how we feel about one another,” Kirwan said. “We feel like brothers. We feel that love as a family. I think that’s what will surprise people – how close we are as a team.”
The Hurricanes finished 11-1. Montini went on to win its fourth consecutive state championship two weeks after knocking out Marian. It was bitter for the Hurricanes, but the film will wrap up their experience with a nice big bow on top.
“I think it will be a great feeling and there will be some joy that these were really some good times and I’m going to remember these times for the rest of my life,” Kirwan said.
Tim Stirneman didn’t want to say what the whole project cost, but be sure it was a load. That’s not the point though. The point is he had the means to do something extraordinary for his son and his son’s friends, and for the Marian football family. So he did it.
“The average sane person wouldn’t have taken this on,” Stirneman said. “I work hard, I have a good dental practice, it seemed like a good way to use the gift I’ve been blessed with. I’m very thankful to the community, I’ve had a good life here in Algonquin.”
• Jeff Arnold contributed to this report.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.