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Clarke Celebrity Classic to Feature Real-Life Coach Portrayed in Current Movie “Pride”

By Clarke News  |  April 25, 2007

Clarke College is pleased to announce that this year’s 19th annual Clarke College Celebrity Classic golf outing will feature , the real-life swim coach portrayed in the currently running movie “Pride.” This year’s Celebrity Classic will be held on Monday, June 11, at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club. To learn more about the film, visit

Jim Ellis’ story is testimony to the power of dreams and their ability to inspire and transform human life. His story is the subject of the current film “Pride,” starring Terrence Howard.

Ellis founded the P.D.R. (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) Swim Team, based at the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, in 1971. Today, it is the city’s nationally recognized competitive swim team, the nation’s best predominately African-American team, and has become a model for urban swim programs around the country.

Over the past 36 years, Ellis has been introducing competitive swimming to inner city youth and their families. His coaching has provided a healthy and stimulating environment in which young athletes can grow and compete. It also brings together families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Through travel to various competitions, the program exposes swimmers to other parts of the country and different lifestyles.

The movie based on Jim Ellis, “Pride,” tells the story of how Ellis built a successful swimming program in one of Philly’s most impoverished neighborhoods. It is set in the early 1970s, when the lives of the young African-American teens on the P.D.R. swim team are full of hardship and prejudice. The film shows this uplifting and soulful story of Ellis’ journey that pulled together a group of troubled inner-city kids, made them into a dedicated team, and taught them how to overcome adversity through hard work and determination. Jim Ellis teaches his swimmers more than just how to compete in the water; he gives them important and life-changing lessons that prepare them for a better future. Through this emotional journey, Coach Ellis also discovers his team has a lot to teach him as well.

As a real-life role model, Ellis’ story strikes a chord with all types of audiences. Coach Ellis is a lovable storyteller whose inspiring true-to-life story captivates and motivates audiences to always remember the influential power of one.

Proceeds from the Celebrity Classic fund eight $2,500 scholarships for outstanding area high school students planning to attend Clarke College. Scholarships are offered to one graduating senior of Hempstead, Senior and Wahlert High Schools in Dubuque, and one each to graduating seniors attending an accredited high school in Clayton County, Dubuque County and Jackson County in Iowa, Jo Daviess County in Illinois and Grant County in Wisconsin.

Scholarship recipients are chosen based on demonstrated academic success and evidence of involvement in church, school and community activities. They are also chosen based on a personal interview and submitted essay.

Morning and afternoon golf is available at the Celebrity Classic, with morning golf beginning at 7:30 a.m. and the afternoon shotgun start beginning at 1 p.m. The event will conclude with cocktails, an auction and dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Registrations are $700 per foursome or $175 per person and are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Dinner-only reservations are available for $60 per person. To make reservations, or to learn more, click here.

Reservations can also be made by calling the Clarke College Institutional Advancement Office at (563)588-6405.