The Blind Side: Is Wingate Christian School a Real School?

In John Lee Hancock’s sports drama film ‘The Blind Side,’ Michael Oher attends Wingate Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee. While studying at the institution, Oher is discovered by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, who become empathetic about his living standards and lack of guardians. Under the care of the Tuohys, Oher secures an irreplaceable spot in the Wingate football team. His time at the school becomes a stepping stone for him as the football player goes on to get drafted in the NFL. In reality, Oher never attended a school named Wingate. Rather, his alma mater is a Christian school in Eads, Tennessee!

Wingate is Based on Briarcrest Christian School

Wingate is a fictional counterpart of Briarcrest Christian School, located at 76 South Houston Levee Road in Eads, which is a part of Shelby County, Tennessee. Michael Oher joined Briarcrest upon accompanying “Big Tony” Henderson, with whom the former was staying at the time, to the institution. Since Oher didn’t have an impressive academic history, the school’s principal at the time, Steve Simpson, was adamant about rejecting his application. That was when Hugh Freeze, the school’s football coach, supported the teenager’s admission because he realized that Briarcrest was the boy’s last chance to receive a quality education.

Freeze’s efforts to lead Oher to Briarcrest’s classroom eventually made Simpson reconsider his decision. Simpson initially asked Oher to join a home-study program to secure good grades in a semester to justify his admission to Briarcrest. When the proposition didn’t yield any result, the principal realized that Oher would only thrive if he joined his institution. Ironically, Simpson made it clear to the teenager that he could play ball only if he proved his worth in academics. Freeze, however, noticed Oher’s efficiency on the football field when he saw the teenager take a tackling dummy that weighed around 50 pounds and run at remarkable speed.

It didn’t take long for Freeze to understand that there was no one else in Briarcrest who could play like Oher. When the teenager upgraded his grades to Ds from Fs through oral examinations, Simpson allowed him to play ball. As days passed, Oher became an integral part of the Briarcrest football team. His display of talent and skills in the field attracted several offers from renowned universities. Even though Briarcrest is an unignorable part of Oher’s past, John Lee Hancock and his team shot the football player’s biopic in two different schools in Atlanta, which is nearly four hundred miles away from Eads.

Atlanta International School and The Westminster Schools in Atlanta double for Wingate/Briarcrest in the film. The former is an International Baccalaureate school that opened in 1985 at 2890 North Fulton Drive in the city. The institution’s alumni include Chris Lowell of ‘Private Practice’ and ‘How I Met Your Father.’ The school is also a filming location of the 2018 movie ‘Love, Simon.’ The Westminster Schools was opened in 1951 as a reorganization of North Avenue Presbyterian School. Brian Baumgartner and Ed Helms, two stars of the iconic sitcom ‘The Office,’ attended this institution. The school previously hosted the shooting of Rebel Wilson’s ‘Senior Year’ and the 2019 romantic drama ‘After.’

Read More: Are The Blind Side’s Coach Cotton and Miss Sue Based on Real People?