Former Titans coach helps campus ‘remember’ unity

By Jana Fagotti Amanda Snow
April 24, 2003

Ryan Mulloy

“As long as your dream is clear and your aim is true, you will be successful; for it is not the color of the balloon that determines how high it will fly but the quality of the air that is inside.” These are the words of legendary Titan’s football coach, Herman Boone, in a speech he gave on Tuesday, April 14, 2003 in Dixon Center to nearly 100 students, faculty and administrators.

Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Coach Herman Boone in the 2001 movie, Remember the Titans, told the story of this remarkable man and the triumphs and tribulations he overcame in order to create a successful team of men. But, that was only half the story . . .

The senior class of the student government association, with the help of Jason Bozzone, director of student activities, invited Boone to speak with the Cabrini community on the realities of diversity in the past, present and future of the world.

Coach Boone was named the head coach of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, back in 1971, a time when racial tensions ran high and designation as head coach was hard on Boone because of racial barriers.

T.C. Williams was a high school formed by the integration of three separate institutions. It was from this union that the Titan football team was created. The rivalries between the schools, coupled with the strain between the black and white players, resulted in a team that was far from united.

When Boone was named head coach, local favorite and successful coach, Bill Yoast, was passed over. This angered many of Yoast’s supporters. The decision to hire Boone was seen as a gesture of goodwill to the black community.

In the end, the two coaches were able to put aside their prejudices. In doing so, they unified their players to form a team with one common vision: to respect one another and win as a team.

Through the game of football, Boone and Yoast were able to help their small, Virginian community put aside their intolerance, and join together to support a common team, the Titans, one of the best teams in Virginia.

“I just wanted them to win football games. In order to do that, I knew I had to get the players to get along with one another to win the game,” Boone told the Cabrini community.

“I think that [Boone] talking about what he went through when he was a coach was very inspirational. It was just a race issue it was an issue of making a choice to be a proactive leader,” Hazel said.

During the question and answer session at the end of his talk, president Iadarola asked Boone about when he was put into the situation when he was coaching back in 1971, and how he dealt with the team and the diversity issues that came with it.

He said that all he demanded of them was to form one pulse. “A team is a group of people who, somehow, someway, can find a way to have one heart beat,” Boone said, “and I had to drain that into their heads. A team must first get rid of the ‘I’ mentality and create the ‘we’ mentality to honestly become a team.”

Basketball player, sophomore, Dan Bachman said, “I think [Boone’s talk] made everyone think about diversity, and how it is important to accept everyone for who they are.” Bachman was impacted personally when Boone spoke of a team having one heart beat. “That has been one of our biggest problems on the basketball team lately; that too many people are trying to go in their own direction.”

Sophomore and English Communications major, Ashlee Lensmyer, said, “He talked about diversity everywhere from school to sports, but more, about not being scared of who you are and what you believe in.”

“I thought the whole speech was good, but I really liked how he was talking about how he thought that this school just spells out ‘welcome’. I thought that said a lot about the college, the environment, and the people here. I think the school should take some pride in that,” sophomore English Communications major, Shaun Smith said.

Boone continues to motivate and inspire audiences with presentations on respect, teamwork, community involvement and importance of character. Cabrini thanks him for his time spent here speaking to the college community on suck topics of importance as these.

One thing is certain; when Cabrini students hear the name ‘Coach Boone’ they will remember far more than the Titans.

posted to the web by Alaina Robinson

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Jana Fagotti Amanda Snow

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