But after watching the 31-minute documentary, she was glad she went.
McGinnis and her three Jacksonville State assistant coaches sat in the back of the Self Hall media library Thursday as student filmmakers Billy Dunn, Bradley McGuire and Robert Pearson premiered “Go Hard: The Tera Ross Story” in their video editing class.
The film is an emotional story exploring the legacy the hard-throwing pitcher, whose on-field intensity belied her off-field persona, had on the JSU softball program and her teammates.
“Honestly, I was very hesitant,” said McGinnis, who addressed the class after the closing credits. “We had practice at 12:30 and I told the guys we were practicing around finals. Then I thought if we didn’t have practice, I don’t know if I want to see it in front of everybody because it just tears your heart.
“Then I thought, ‘No, we owe it Tera, we owe it to the guys. We need to be strong and be there. This is our top priority. We should be there, so we have to be there. That’s what my heart kept telling me. I’m just proud we came.”
Ross was killed in a car wreck in Florida driving home for Christmas break in 2003 prior to her senior JSU season. She was 22.
The project was required to be only 10 minutes, but the filmmakers had so much quality material from interviews with Ross’ parents, coaches and JSU administrators that they asked for — and received — permission to make it longer. All three said the project might have started out as something for a grade in January, but it soon turned into so much more.
The class clapped enthusiastically as the final credits rolled. McGinnis had thought of bringing the team to see it, but the room had limited seating and several players were still involved with finals. It will see the film at some point, she said.
“We’re so happy everybody enjoyed it,” McGuire said. “I’ve seen it like 50 times and I even teared up. I saw Billy tear up over it. I saw Robert tear up. To see it finally done, to have the coaches being here, people enjoying it, there’s nothing better.”
Class professor J. Patrick McGrail called the film “very strong.” He said it was only a “few tweaks away” from being ready for broadcast, a requirement to enter any number of student film contests.
The film dealt with Ross’ beginnings as a softball player, her college recruiting and her life as a daughter and teammate. The most emotional portion, of course, was the accident, and it evoked tears from all the coaches in the back row.
McGinnis said the filmmakers handled that part of the story with “sensitivity.”
“They couldn’t have handled it better,” said Gamecocks pitching coach Mark Wisener, who first spotted Ross at a tournament during his honeymoon. “I thought the whole thing was tremendous, better than I thought it was going to be.
“They went above and beyond. It was more than special. It’s going to help us all heal.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.