CLINTON — Clinton High School football coach Jon Wauford admits his players don't get a lot of time to mingle and socialize away from the football field.

That's why when local pastor Woodie Ladnier invited the varsity team, along with at least seven other area football teams, to a free showing of "Woodlawn," Wauford didn't pass up the opportunity.

"We were happy to be a part of it and honored that they would do this for us," Wauford said. "You don't get a lot of chances to hang out with your team outside of practicing and working, so it was a great opportunity for the kids to just have a good night."

Ladnier has been the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church for a little more than a year and hails from Alabama. He knew the story "Woodlawn," which is based on the true story of an Alabama high school football player Tony Nathan, would have some inspiring messages for the local football players.

Though he purchased the tickets to rent out Clinton 8 Theater for a private showing of the movie, Ladnier said he couldn't take credit for all of it.

The idea of offering the movie to the football players came from one of Ladnier's church-goers, and the money to purchase the tickets came all through donations.

"We ended up purchasing tickets for two different showings, one during the day and one at night. But, credit goes where credit's due," Ladnier said. "I told a few people about what we were doing, and was trying to involve churches in the area to raise support, but they really didn't have a chance. In about five days, $3,000 was raised from three sources — a man from my church brought a check for $1,500, $1,000 came from the Great Rivers Southern Baptist Association and $500 came from the Baptist Convention of Iowa."

With the $3,000, Ladnier purchased about 250 tickets for the two showings, but said unfortunately only Clinton High School sent football players to attend the movie. Because of that, Ladnier handed out tickets to other patrons who arrived to Sunday's showing, some of whom drove from out-of-town to watch the Christian-based film.Ladnier said his intention was to organize the movie event and get other local churches, students and families involved, adding it didn't work out that way. He believes part of the lack of support was because of how quickly things came together to make it happen.

"I talked with coaches, I talked to a couple principals, athletic directors, and everything was positive about doing this," Ladnier said. "I don't know if it was the practicality of it, and it kind of happened very quickly, but I was kind of disappointed more teams and people didn't get involved."

Because of that, Ladnier feels like last Sunday's impromptu movie screening won't be the last. He said he just needs Clinton 8 Theaters to continue bringing positive, Christian-based films to Clinton.

"I really appreciated how Trevor worked with us, and I also appreciate this is the second Christian movie they've brought here in last last two months," Ladnier said. "It think the movie brought a great message to those kids. If the movie wouldn't have come here none of this would have happened. That was something out of my control. It was a God thing."

Assistant Editor Amy Kent can be contacted at amykent@clintonherald.com.

Amy Kent can be reached at amykent@clintonherald.com or on Twitter at @AmyKentCH

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