Mendota (Calif.) HS football team’s heroic rise focus of new SC Featured



“SC Featured” Air Times


The “SC Featured” Mendota story will debut on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET) and also will air on “SportsCenter” at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. An expanded one-hour “SC Featured” special on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. will include an extended interview with coach Robert “Beto” Mejia, who visited ESPN headquarters and sat down with “SportsCenter” anchor Lindsay Czarniak. A Spanish-language version of the Mendota story will air on ESPN Deportes (Sunday, 9 ET) and will be hosted by Alvaro Morales. A digital version of the story, with video, will appear on ESPN.com on Feb. 20.

ESPN’s SC Featured will tell the inspiring story of a California high school football team across multiple ESPN programs and platforms this Sunday.

The town of Mendota, Calif. endures high rates of unemployment and poverty. Its residents are almost all Hispanic, many of them immigrants. Most of the Mendota High School football team’s players work in the agricultural fields around the town to help support their families. Still, the team has become a football powerhouse with the help of its transformational coach, Robert “Beto” Mejia, and star running back Edgar Segura.

“This is primarily a Hispanic community, and a lot of what makes this team who they are is based in the community and the issues that the community faces,” said Victor Vitarelli, senior coordinating producer of ESPN’s Features Unit. “So it’s a story not only about the team but the community around that team. It’s a very compelling sports story, and any time we get an opportunity to dig deep into what makes some of these teams click, we love those opportunities.”

ESPN’s SC Featured crew, led by producer Scott Harves, spent part of six months with the Mendota team.

“What makes Scott so good is that he has an incredible knack for finding the story behind the story,” said Vitarelli. “He knew right away there was something special here. Scott is passionate about telling stories that have a social bend to them. Through sports, he finds ways of telling these fascinating stories.”

Editor’s note: Friday, Front Row will present a behind-the-scenes look at Mendota High School head coach Robert “Beto” Mejia’s visit to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters for an interview with Lindsay Czarniak.

(Rachel Pineda/ESPN)

Lindsay Czarniak with Robert Mejia (Rachel Pineda/ESPN)

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  • Hector J Aguilar

    Amazing story of ordinary people chasing the American Dream. Thank you so much for this story.

  • Tanner Johnson

    All I can say is WOW! I can’t stop reading and watching the video about the history and current state of the football team and the town. I have a 7 year old boy and live in the small town of Duncan, Oklahoma. The coach is amazing! Such inspiring and passionate speeches! To think that I could live somewhere that my son may have to work to help support our family is something I have never thought of. Those young men are amazing! Absolutely inspiring in every way. I am anxiously waiting to watch the show with my wife, and most importantly, my son. He is half Hispanic and my wife is from Los Angeles. She has tried to explain how good we have it and how people are struggling to even have food to eat. To let him see the struggles families go threw, to see the courage and sacrifices they have to make in order to survive, and the way that they can make something for themselves when nobody believes in them is absolutely amazing. I can not describe the admiration I have for those kids. It’s hard to watch that short story and realize that they are just kids. My wife and I are both veterans that served honorably for 5 years each from 2000-2005. These kids, these coaches, they are heroes to me. They do not fight against an enemy in a foreign land, but to me, growing up in a town like Mendota, they have to fight for their lives, for a better future, and for their families every single day. That is a soldier to me. They are people the rest of us should look up to. They are setting the example of what America should be, what America could be with more people like the ones from Mendota. The coach says to his team “Your from Mendota, so! Ain’t nobody gonna ever feel bad for you”! At first I did feel bad for what they have to endure to survive. Now, I feel bad for the millions and millions of Americans that have the opportunity to make something of themselves, so much more support, so many things taken for granted, so much potential to make a difference, but it’s wasted because they don’t understand how fortunate they are. To live in a country where anyone can become whatever they want. I only wish we had more towns like Mendota to set the example for the rest of our country. I hope people can see that we are capable of so much more. Take something from this story and apply that to your life. Pass it on to someone else. I hope this will inspire coaches like coach Robert Mejia. ESPN is incredible with finding these great stories as they have throughout the years (30 for 30, 9 for 9, Outside the Lines). It’s just incredible to see a football team that came together, and united a town that desperately needed something to provide a sense of pride in their community. Hopefully this story will affect people in the way that makes them think about what they can do to make a difference. Simply amazing that some of the greatest things happening in America are coming from people that nobody even knows. Thanks again ESPN for seeking out these incredible stories.

    Tanner Johnson

  • Dr. Ephraim Turner, Attorney at Law

    I watched the story on ESPN Sunday morning by accident. The only television I watch is sports and CNN news just to stay informed. This story is one of the most touching and inspirational stories I have ever seen. This story is like the 800 lb gorilla in the room..everybody knows it’s there but no one wants to acknowledge it’s presence. One hour drive from the Bay Area. Really? Congratulations to ESPN on a production job and story well done. I’m so sick and tired of the arrogance of “some” professional athletes that abuse the opportunities and professional status they have achieved. To see this story was heart breaking and refreshing all at the same time. How can that be? I shall pray for the entire community of Mendota. I shall pray hardest for those exemplary young men and the coaching staff of the Mendota Football Team. As to Coach Mejia and his entire coaching staff, I say Thank You! As to Edgar Sequra…what can I say. Hopefully he will get the opportunity to go to college and play football at the next level. All he is asking for is an opportunity. He has earned that. They don’t know it yet, but those young men even in defeat in a football game are learning lessons that will carry them beyond the town of Mendota and through life.

    • Lottie

      This video has been an inspiration to people all over the world. I just want to say that “I love you, coach Mejia” for the wisdom you are pouring out on these young MEN. They earned the right to be called men. You are one of the best things that has happened to a lot of them. Some of these young “men” are helping to support their families
      and carrying the role as the man in the house and with no father around them coach Mejia is an angel in disguise. God puts angels
      where He needs them, and Mendota High School needed this “angel.”

  • Lottie Valles

    I read this article and viewed the film and I am totally inspired. I lived in a town (Kerman) just East of Mendota. My kids grew up with other kids in and around Mendota. Our school played football with these kids from Mendota. Living so close, and yet not really seeing that they were any less fortunate than any other little town. I am not sure that they think they are any less fortunate than anyone else. They are great kids and they work for a purpose, sometimes other than for themselves. My kids always worked when they were growing up. We encouraged it. We wanted them to know that hard work builds character and what it means to be commitment. What it means to have someone other than mom and dad to be responsible to. If they wanted something special, they need to work and save for it. They also played sports. Both my sons did amazingly well in the sports field. My oldest had to miss his Bacaloriate I have never been inside a locker room when the coach is

  • Lottie Valles

    I got disconnected because I pressed the wrong key. I hope that I can complete what I was trying to say. My sons went on to college and one is a Cardiologist and the other is an award winning designer and businessman. I think it is good when kids work while growing up and I don’t in any way think that it should be the most important thing, but it never hurt them. I am complimented all the time on their manners and work ethics. Too many parents think that work is for after you are grown up, I think it helps you to grow up. I was going to say, I have never been inside a locker room when a coach is giving the boys (or girls) their pep talk, but coach Mejia does an amazing job. I think Mendota is truly blessed to have a coach like Robert Mejia mentoring their kids because what he is trying to instil in them is good work ethics and to be responsible to someone other than themselves. I think a lot of parents could gain a lot of wisdom from him or someone like him. I can’t wait to see this on ESPN. I will make sure that I let my sons and everyone else know about it. Thank you.

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  • toniann

    i iive 20 minutes away in san joaquin ca. last year my son was in 8th grade and i did not want anything to do with our district high school (being he would be a freshmen year of 2013-2014 i decided to visit mendota high school. once i met the office staff he and i both knew it was the school for him. i have never been so happy with our decision from the documentary you can see how the coaches care and i know first hand because my son plays football there but the whole staff at the school take this same pride and encourage the kids. i get calls from random teachers just to encourage my son in his academics.mendota high school is a caring encouraging place and im glad my son is a part of it. and while i may live in a city that shows no support or love for their football program my family does thanks to coach mejia and all the players including edgar for welcoming my son there.

  • Evelyn Baez Meier

    Wonderfully inspiring story, we really hope Edgar can get a scholarship!