While securing a meeting with screenwriter and film producer Angelo Pizzo was a big deal, Brian Borland wasn’t sure where it would go from there.
As Borland took a seat in the living room of Pizzo’s home in Bloomington, Indiana, the Madison native couldn’t help but wonder if he’d be walking back out the door in five minutes.
In fact, his departure wouldn’t come for another six hours.
By the time Borland left, his labor of love — “Maynard 8 Miles,” a book he wrote about his parents — was one big step closer to becoming a movie. Pizzo, best known for writing the scripts for sports movies “Hoosiers” and “Rudy,” was so interested in Borland’s book that he agreed to make it his next endeavor.
“If you think about who you would want to write the screenplay to the movie,” Borland said, “he’s at the top of the list.”
Business cards for Borland’s book, which was published in 2013, promote it as a “Hoosiers” meets “A League of Their Own” story. After reading it and speaking with Borland, Pizzo saw the potential to write a movie script that was different from his previous projects.
“I loved Brian’s book and thought immediately that here was an opportunity to write a sports story from the female vantage point, something I’ve never done,” Pizzo said in a statement.
How Pizzo chooses to write the script remains to be seen. For Borland, a key moment in the project came in 2006 at his parents’ home, where he overheard them talking about going to Des Moines to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Maynard girls basketball team winning a state title in Iowa.
What Borland didn’t know at the time was that his mother was one of the stars of that team. He joined his parents at the celebration and, the more questions he asked, the more fascinated he became by his mother’s background.
“What happened when I got down there that weekend is it changed my life,” Borland said. “I found out that weekend that my mom was this legend.”
What Carolyn Borland (nee Nicholson) had never told her three children was that she had scored more than 3,000 points over five seasons at Maynard, a tiny town in northeastern Iowa.
She had never told them about the impact her quick first step made on 6-on-6 basketball, a sport dominated by post players until Carolyn Nicholson showed that small players could pile up big point totals as well.
Brian Borland also uncovered the story of how his mother, back when she was in the second grade, had carved “Maynard State Champs 1956” into her bedroom wall.
It was quite a prediction considering Maynard didn’t have a girls basketball team at the time. By 1950, after years of trying, Glenn Nicholson finally convinced the school board that his four daughters and other girls in the small farming community should have the opportunity to play basketball.
Six years later, after falling just short of reaching the state tournament each of the previous two seasons, Maynard won a state title in front of more than 15,000 fans. Carolyn Nicholson was named captain of the all-tournament team.
It was a career to brag about, to be sure, but Carolyn never did. Even her closest friends in Madison had never known about Carolyn’s athletic career until her son began his research for his book.
“Mom,” Borland said, “was this humble superstar.”
Carolyn Nicholson had opportunities to play basketball beyond high school, but love intervened. She had fallen for a basketball star from Oelwein, Iowa, 8 miles down the road from Maynard.
Glenn Borland, who was two years older than Carolyn, went on to play for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team in the 1950s.
A two-time captain known for his left-handed hook shot, Glenn Borland followed his time at UW with a long career in the Madison School District. He wore a lot of hats over the years — teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, assistant superintendent and interim superintendent — and earned a spot in the Madison Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Glenn Borland died last year, about seven years after losing his wife to lung cancer. But before she died, Carolyn Borland made one final trip back to Maynard and stepped foot in the gymnasium where she’d become a legend.
When his mother became ill, Brian Borland took a break from a career in computers to write the book honoring his parents. All along, he thought the story had the makings of a movie — and he wasn’t alone.
One of Borland’s biggest supporters since the book was published has been former UW coach Bo Ryan, who kept encouraging Borland to move the project forward. Borland said he and Ryan will serve as co-producers on the movie.
“The story is better than ‘Hoosiers,’ ” Ryan said in a statement. “It’s a tremendous human-interest story featuring great life lessons told through exciting basketball action. I read the book in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the movie.”