The House That Rob Built
By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Positive messages, role models in inspiring sports docu.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Women and girls should be nurtured to pursue their personal and professional dreams, including in athletics. Basketball is shown to have been a conduit for young women, including Native American women raised on reservations, to get into college and professional careers beyond. Team members support each other like family.
Positive Role Models
Coach Rob treated his female athletes with the same toughness and motivated them to work, train, and compete just as hard as their male counterparts. He's said to have understood the emotional boundaries of every one of his athletes, meaning he would only push each one just the right amount. He admits in retrospect that he missed out on parts of his home life due to his dedication to the team, yet women who worked as his assistant coaches share how he helped them achieve a better work-life balance. Women talk about how scholarships to play with the Lady Griz opened up opportunities in life, and a handful of Native American women say it provided them a rare path off the reservation. One Native woman in particular became a role model to other young women in her community, and Rob was the only non-Indian to be nominated to the Native Athletics Hall of Fame. His legacy lives on in the team and the extended family of his former players.
Products & Purchases
The NCAA and universities across the Northwest, especially the University of Montana and Montana State, as well as elsewhere in the US are highlighted. Some sponsor company logos can be seen on clothing and courtside.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The House That Rob Built is appropriate and potentially inspirational for all ages, but very young viewers without a particular interest in basketball could find the documentary format too talky. The film encourages women and girls to pursue their dreams, especially in athletics. It also portrays how life-changing opportunities can be for members of disadvantaged communities, like the women from rural communities with no college plans who were recruited to play on Rob's team or the Native American women who say that sports offered them a rare path off the reservation and into professional careers. The documentary has a message of empowerment for young women and female athletes, and it showcases how one person can positively impact many lives. Rob's team is like an extended family that supports each other well after they've left the university.
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The House That Rob Built
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What's the Story?
When Rob Selvig, the title subject of THE HOUSE THAT ROB BUILT, retired as head coach of the University of Montana women's basketball team, he left behind a 38-year career with the team and generations of former players who still credit the team for changing their lives for the better. This documentary interviews many of those players as well as Selvig, his family members, journalists, fans, and fellow coaches to detail his pioneering role over four decades in women's basketball. Selvig was responsible for essentially creating the Montana team in a pre-Title IX era when women's sports were simply devalued. Starting out with second-rate uniforms and facilities, the team began building up its fan base, winning games, and eventually winning championships. The team provided unique opportunities for women, including many from rural and Native American communities. At the end of the film, hundreds of former players gather to celebrate Rob on the occasion of his retirement.
Is It Any Good?
Despite the relatively niche topic of the rise of a women's basketball team at a Montana university, this documentary has some universal themes that could interest a wider audience. As The House That Rob Built depicts, even despite Title IX anti-discrimination laws passed in the early 1970s, there was very little investment in, support for, or expectations from women's university athletics even a decade later. That context explains why Rob Selvig's coaching of the Lady Griz was so groundbreaking in its day. Newspaper clips and archive images capture the rise of the team and the excitement they generated from the mid-1980s on, while interviews with contemporary girls reflect the team's continued cultural importance. This film is clearly a celebration of a beloved figure in a generations-wide local community.
The one-hour documentary is mostly talking heads, and many of Rob's former players get emotional talking about his significance and the role of the team's "sisterhood" in their lives. To hear the stories of his former players is also to understand the essential role that team sports can play in people's lives, and the opportunity that college athletic scholarships can open up for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. An unnecessarily loud musical soundtrack threatens to overpower the interviewees at times, which is unfortunate because their testimonies and Rob's own memories of his coaching philosophy were certainly compelling enough to stand on their own.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the legacy of Rob Selvig described in The House That Rob Built. How did his actions affect the lives of his players?
Rob and the Lady Griz embody the spirit of teamwork. What are some of the rewards of teamwork depicted in this film?
What are some other character strengths that former players, fellow coaches, and family members highlight about Rob?
What are Title VI and Title IX, and why were they important? Where can you go for more information about these groundbreaking anti-discrimination laws?
- On DVD or streaming: February 23, 2021
- Cast: Rob Selvig, Malia Kipp, Shannon Cate Schweyen
- Directors: Jonathan Cipiti, Megan Harrington
- Studio: 1091 Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 59 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 22, 2023
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