Woodlands Academy alumna’s project now showing on Netflix

Award-winning filmmaker and artist Sarah Feeley '93 is one of the directors of a new sports documentary series – of which LeBron James and Maverick Carter are executive producers – being featured on Netflix. “The Playbook: A Coach's Rules for Life” puts the spotlight on coaches, offering insights into the rules they follow to achieve success in sports and life. 

Feeley directed the episode about Hall of Fame basketball player and coach Dawn Staley. Others who discuss critical moments that helped form their coaching philosophies include the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers; two-time FIFA World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis, the winningest coach in US soccer history; Premier League’s José Mourinho, one of the most decorated football managers of all-time; and Serena Williams’ famed tennis coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.

Feeley, whose work focuses on themes of identity and belonging, said she was thrilled when first approached about participating in this project. “As a young person I was active in athletics and the coaches I have had throughout my life, especially Ms. Briesch at Woodlands, taught me valuable life lessons about resilience, teamwork and leadership.”

As for her take-aways from “The Playbook: A Coach's Rules for Life” episode she directed, Feeley said, “If Dawn Staley is 100 percent grit, then she is 1000 percent heart. Sometimes her love is tough, but it is deep, and it drives her championship mindset and elevates everyone around her. I think it’s important to see women in this context – supporting, motivating and elevating other women (and men), and I am grateful to have had the chance to help tell this inspiring woman’s story.”

Feeley credits her Woodlands Academy education with playing a key role in choosing her career path and the successes she has achieved.  “I entered Woodlands as an insecure student who found it was a place where I could be myself, develop my academic abilities, gain confidence as a student and learn to use my voice to advocate for myself and for others,” she said. “Dr. Zarob taught me how to think and how to write and inspired me to be a history major. It first occurred to me that I wanted to pursue a career as a filmmaker in my sophomore year. It seemed so far out of reach and so unlikely at the time. But the independence, curiosity and drive that I developed at Woodlands helped me to realize that anything possible if you work hard enough at it.”

In addition to a degree in history from Boston College, Feeley has a master’s degree in fine arts from USC’s Peter Stark Program, where she was honored with the Jerry Isenberg Studio Head Award. Feeley is a 2016-2018 ABC/Disney CTDI Program Director, a 2016 GOOD 100 honoree, a Sundance Institute alumna and the former co-chair of USC’s Women of Cinematic Arts.

“The Playbook: A Coach's Rules for Life” marks her second Netflix Original Series. The first was as co-executive producer of “The Innocent Man.” Feeley’s prior credits include the Academy Award-nominated “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” as well as producing “The Nineties” episode of the CNN series “The Movies” and directing “Raising Ryland” for CNN Films, a documentary taking viewers on a gripping journey inside the transgender experience as lived by a 5-year-old boy and his two loving parents.

In the world of advertising, she has directed, written and produced for the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola, Subway Volkswagen, Polaroid and JW Marriott.

Sarah Feeley ’93 is shown here on a set from one of her more recent projects, “Dear,” which premiered on Apple TV+ earlier this year.