JEFFERSON CITY — Pete Adkins, legendary high school football coach. Melissa Etheridge, Grammy award-winning musician. Two paths that seemingly would never cross, but they have in Etheridge’s newest music video.
Adkins coached the Jefferson City Jays football team from 1958 to 1994, racking up the highest winning percentage in history for a high school football coach in the United States, with a final record of 405-60-4. When Etheridge began the process of figuring out a concept for her latest single, “Breathe,” she had football on her mind.
“Melissa wanted something that was football-related,” said Phil Andelman, who directed the video. “But she was very unspecific. I didn’t want to just film tackles and that side of it, so I decided to take a human-interest side.”
Andelman hired a researcher for Sports Illustrated to find a successful football coach. He wanted to examine the coach’s life, where he came from, what he accomplished and where he is now. The researcher pointed him to Adkins.
“They were looking for a successful high school football program,” Adkins said. “(The researcher) had known of me and had been to the house firsthand and knew the stuff we had here. That is probably what sold Jeff City above the rest.”
Andelman confirmed that Adkins’ house was one of the considerations in the decision.
“His house was amazing,” he said. “Just walls and walls of trophies. We did absolutely no art direction for those shots in the video.”
Adkins accepts offer, despite initial concerns
But Adkins said he wasn’t too excited about making a music video at first. He wondered how the film crew could take the history of his coaching years with the Jefferson City Jays and portray it in a music video.
“My football career is over with, what else could I do that would be important?” Adkins said. “But if it is good for the program and the kids, then so be it.”
After checking up on Andelman’s credentials, Adkins accepted the offer to be the focus of Etheridge’s video.
The video was shot in December in Jefferson City. The crew filmed Adkins at the stadium named in his honor on the Jefferson City High School campus and at his home. They also obtained old 16 mm films from him for footage throughout the video.
Shots of Adkins at the stadium and in his living room, as well as older footage, intermingle throughout the video with shots of Etheridge playing and singing on a football field.
The clips of Etheridge were shot on a field in California, not at Adkins Stadium.
Final cut pleases Adkins, community
Adkins said he was impressed with the professionalism of the crew during the shoot and the finished product of the video.
“They were very thorough at taking our history, going through it and portraying it very well,” he said. “It complimented the program, athletes and city as a whole, very well.”
Andelman similarly said he was pleased with the video.
“It was kind of like a youth lost type of story,” Andelman said. “He was a man who once was great, he had amazing power and presence and the video captured that.”
The video has created a stir around mid-Missouri and message boards around the world, even being mentioned by Attorney General John Ashcroft during a recent visit to Jefferson City.
“I am amazed at how fast they got it out over the computer and everything,” said Adkins. “I have been getting a lot of neat cards, letters and calls; everyday something shows up at the house.”
Adkins says the faculty and administration of Jefferson City High School, past and present, have been pleased with the video, as well as alumni and his former players.
“If one guy sees it, he contacts all of his buddies around the U.S., and they pass the word on and it keeps going,” he said.
He also said he feels the video is a wonderful reward to the former Jefferson City High School football players.
“It is a neat thing and a good reward for them,” Adkins said. “They paid a big price to play football for Jeff City and under me, so it is a good payoff.”
The local connection has given Etheridge’s new single plenty of radio time on KBXR/102.3 FM, a rock station in Columbia.
“It is something neat to talk about on-air because of the local connection,” said Lana Trezise, disc jockey for the station. “We’ve had listeners call in and talk about it and we have talked about it on-air several times.”
Trezise says the Missouri connection does not begin and end with Coach Adkins. “Breathe,” she said, is actually a cover of the St. Louis band, Greenwheel.
“So, that is a lot of love for Missouri from a Kansan.”
Etheridge hails from Leavenworth, Kan.