ROGERS PARK — Loyola University's men's volleyball team is part of the storyline of new film based in part on the director's life growing up Downstate.
The film, "Miles," which opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles and is available through streaming, tells the story of a teenager whose college fund has been lost by his philandering father. Seeking a way to cover his tuition, he learns of a volleyball scholarship offered by Loyola University's men's team.
First, though, he must hone his skills, so he joins the girl's high school team in his small Illinois town.
The director, Nathan Adloff, was born in Springfield and actually played on a girl's team, but in junior high not high school.
"It was a small school. I had sixty kids in my graduating class. There was not a lot to pick from in general. It was exciting to be part of a team for the first time in an athletic setting. I really enjoyed it," he told the Seattle-based LGBTQ site Equality365.
Adloff, like his lead character, is gay, though some reviewers note that Miles' sexuality does not play a large role in the movie. The director said he and his co-writer Justin D.M. Palmer "believe that the most relevant next step for a film with gay lead characters is to not feel like a 'gay film' at all, but like a film with human characters."
"This movie is not just about a boy playing on a girls sports team. It is a love letter to unexpected childhoods," said Adloff, who attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
The film, which played at the Chicago Film Festival last year, stars Tim Boardman as Miles, Paul Reiser as the school district superintendent and Molly Shannon as Miles' mother.
As for the real Loyola men's team, Miles would have to be pretty good to make it. The squad was ranked 14th in the final 2017 American Volleyball Coaches Association Division (AVCA) I-II Poll and senior Jeff Jendryk is one of three current collegiate players on the U.S. Men’s National Team roster.
A university spokesman confirmed the team does offer scholarships.