Huntington, W.Va. (AP) -- California native Julie Mello was so impressed by the movie "We Are Marshall" that she wound up enrolling at Marshall University.
Her story doesn't stop there, though.
Once on campus, she struck up a friendship with Red Dawson, one of the coaches depicted in the Hollywood film.
Dawson now runs a construction company in the Huntington area and was moved by Mello's fascination with the movie.
The 65-year-old former coach helped move the 18-year-old freshman into her dorm and has counseled her when she's been homesick.
Now she calls him "Uncle Red."
Mello says Dawson shows her the ropes and it's nice to know he is watching out for her.
The 2006 release of the movie dramatized the true story of rebuilding Marshall's football team after the deadly 1970 plane crash.
Mello said she found the movie so inspiring she wanted to go to school in Huntington.
She estimates she's seen the movie more than 100 times.
Now Mello is in the middle of her freshman year. She said Huntington has exceeded her expectations.
(Copyright 2008 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)