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Football Coach & Motivator
In 1971, racial tensions ran high in Alexandria, Virginia, as three schools were integrated to form T.C. Williams High School. In a story captured by the monumentally popular Disney film Remember the Titans, Herman Boone—portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington—faced the challenge of a lifetime in uniting black and white players from previously rival schools in the newly-created Titan football team.
Tensions only escalated when Boone, assistant coach of the former T.C. Williams High School, was named head coach of the Titans, passing over Bill Yoast, the local favorite and successful head coach of the former (and white) Hammond High. Yoast’s supporters were angered by Boone’s appointment, which was seen as a gesture of goodwill to the black community.
Remarkably, the two coaches were able to put aside their prejudices and in doing so, united their players to form a team whose common vision was to respect each other and win football games. At the same time, through the game of football, Boone and Yoast were able to help their small Virginia community put aside their intolerance and join together to support their children. The Titans became one of the best teams in Virginia, compiling a 13-0 record and going on to win the state championship.
Remember the Titans screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard said in a Washington Post interview, “Herman is Shakespearean. The beauty of Herman and what he did was that it was sort of unconscious. If you’d asked Herman when he took over T.C. Williams, ‘Were you trying to make a point with these kids?’ he would have said, ‘No, I just want to win football games.’ He had to get the players to get along to win football games. And it worked for just that reason—because it wasn’t self-conscious. He did something quite beyond what even he realized.”
Herman Boone is now retired but continues to motivate and inspire audiences with presentations on respect, teamwork, community involvement, and the importance of character.