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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

TAG movie based on Gonzaga Prep students premieres in Spokane

Life-long friends who inspired the movie “Tag” left to right, Mike Konesky, Joe Tombari, Fr. Sean Raftis and Rick Bruya attend the Spokane premier at the Regal Cinemas at Northtown Mall on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Six of the 10 men whose 30 years of elaborate strategies, betrayals and friendships inspired the movie “Tag” gathered Wednesday night at the NorthTown Mall Regal cinema in Spokane for the film’s premiere.

Joe Tombari, a member of the original “Tag Brotherhood” and a teacher at Gonzaga Preparatory School, where the game began in 1982, said the group member who’s currently “it,” Bill Akers, was at the Seattle premiere of the movie. The other members present Wednesday were Mike Konesky, the Rev. Sean Raftis, Mark Mengert, Patrick Schultheis and Rick Bruya.

Tombari said most of the characters are composites of all of them, but Jeremy Renner’s character in the movie, who has never been tagged, has some similarities to Schultheis, who he said is notoriously difficult to catch. Schultheis, who said he is better at tag than Renner, added he was surprised the studio would want to make a movie about their game in the first place.

“We’re just 10 middle-aged idiots from the Pacific Northwest who played a game,” he said.

He said the group has met with the film’s writers and has traveled to the set, but outside of sharing their stories, they haven’t been deeply involved in the process. All they’ve really done to contribute is play tag.

Though the characters aren’t an exact match for anyone in the Tag brotherhood, Konesky said he thinks the movie was able to depict the spirit of the game and how the friends have kept in contact over the years despite going their separate ways.

“I think they really captured the essence of who we are,” Konesky said. “Just being adults and people with real jobs, yet we do this goofy thing.”

Tombari said much of the game consists of strategizing in the fall and dressing up in elaborate costumes and setting up traps for when the game starts in February. Quickly becoming his favorite part, he said, is how involved the group’s families are. They’ve recruited children, spouses and co-workers to try and set up the greatest tags, and their tag brother family, he added, is growing.

“That’s where the game’s progressing and it’s just getting better,” he said.