Sep 14, 2023 - News

Documentary highlights Miami's football "mecca"

A band performing at the half time show at Traz Powell Stadium, high school football playoff game, Northwestern vs. Central.

A band performs at halftime of a high school football playoff game at Traz Powell Stadium. Photo: Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Miami is one of the country's top producers of NFL players, and most of them have one thing in common: They called Nathaniel "Traz" Powell Stadium home.

Driving the news: "The Mecca," a new documentary from local filmmaker Nicanson Guerrier, explores the legacy of the North Dade stadium and the magic of high school football in Miami.

  • The film features interviews with local legends, from former Miami Dolphins players Nat Moore and Teddy Bridgewater to hip-hop pioneer and high school coach Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell.

Why it matters: As the film explains, high school football is more than just a sport in Miami: It's part of the fabric of our community and a way out of poverty for many local athletes.

  • The stadium, built in 1965, was renamed in 1988 in honor of Nathaniel Powell, who was the first Black player to score a touchdown in the Orange Bowl and later won six state championships coaching high school football in Miami.

The who's who: Traz Powell Stadium is the shared home turf of several championship-winning programs, including Miami Northwestern, Carol City, Booker T. Washington, Central and Norland.

  • NFL stars who grew up playing at The Mecca, as it was nicknamed, include Amari Cooper (Northwestern), Dalvin Cook (Central) and Antonio Brown (Norland).

What they're saying: "'The Mecca' is my love letter to my hometown, Miami, but I want the whole world to read it," Guerrier tells Axios. "I am so proud to be from Miami and I want to share that pride with everyone."

  • Guerrier said he was inspired to make the film because he admired Traz Powell announcer Willie Wilcox, who coined the stadium's nickname.
  • Wilcox, a.k.a "The Voice," is known for giving nicknames to players as he narrated their games. (Bridgewater, for example, was called "The Doctor" for dissecting defenses.)

What's next: The documentary premiered last weekend at the Historic Lyric Theater in a private screening for a few hundred people.

  • Guerrier said he hopes to hold a public screening at Traz Powell in front of 10,000 people and land a distribution deal to share Miami's story with the world.

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