Film screening to honor Chet Coppock at New Trier West tonight

Chet Coppock

One of Chet Coppock’s last video projects will have a public screening tonight at New Trier West High School in Northfield as a tribute to the late Chicago sportscaster.

Coppock, who grew up in Northfield and graduated from New Trier in 1966, went on to become one of Chicago’s most recognizable sports media figures. He died April 17 of injuries from a car accident near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Tonight’s event, hosted by The GameChangers Foundation, will feature a screening of “GameChangers,” a 2018 documentary about the historic rivalry between the basketball teams of Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side and New Trier in the ’60s. (Here is the link for tickets.)

Played before packed crowds at McGaw Hall in Evanston, the two super-sectional games in 1965 and 1966 between the all-white and all-black teams underscored racial tension in the Chicago area and throughout the nation.

Coppock narrated and conducted interviews for the film, which first aired on The U Too, a digital subchannel of Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-Channel 26.

Guests of honor at the screening (which also will include outtakes of Coppock’s work from the film) will be his daughter Lyndsey, son Tyler, and their mother Anna. Proceeds from the event will establish the Chet Coppock GameChanger Grant for Sports Journalism, to be awarded annually to a graduating senior, starting in 2020.

The creative force behind the documentary was Chicago area filmmaker Joe Dondanville, who blended recently discovered 8mm film footage of the two games with interviews of players from both teams more than 50 years later.

After its completion, Coppock said of the film: “The best I can do is tell you that my work on this project went well beyond my wildest expectations. It is a wonderful piece of work that I hope will be cherished by a national audience."

Calling it “a passionate and encouraging lesson that should be passed on to our youth,” he added: “This kind of story doesn’t come along often . . . but it should stick around for a long while . . . maybe 50 years . . . or more.”

Amy Louise Williams

In a footnote to Coppock’s passing, the woman who was driving the 2004 Lexus in which he was riding released her first public statement on the incident.

Amy Louise Williams, 50, a former Chicago TV producer who now lives in Charleston, South Carolina, wrote in a Facebook post Saturday that she was still recovering from her injuries.

Here is the text of her post:

It's been almost three months since my dear friend Chet Coppock and I were in a car accident together near Savannah, Georgia, [on] April 6.

Sadly, Chet passed away in the same hospital as I was in.

I'm still here, and will most likely be hospitalized for another four to six weeks due to two broken legs, two broken femurs, four broken ribs, a broken arm, and most importantly a broken heart.

I knew Chet for over 20 years, and we always found a way to communicate every week somehow.

I miss him terribly.

If you were lucky enough to have known him, I'm sure he would say now to the world, PLEASE WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!!!!

CHET COPPOCK, please rest in peace, I love you.

Thursday's comment of the day: Penny Lane Juhlin: Thank you, thank you, thank you for the great story and interview on Chicagos unique treasure, Chuck Schaden. He inspired the SAG/AFTRA Senior Radio players to start reviving old time radio shows 20 years ago. (Our next show is July 18 at the Chicago Cultural Center on the second floor in the Claudia Cassidy theater.) Good to know he has a book coming out! May he continue to eat his beloved ice cream and live far beyond Jack Benny's 39 years!