Coach Boone Speaks at Nichols

Remember the Titans is a gripping movie about an integrated football team, the Titans.  This past week, Nichols had the honor of welcoming to campus Herman Boone, the real-life coach of the Titans football team and now a motivational speaker. I was excited to hear from Coach Boone because I have watched the movie so many times. Honestly, I could probably recite the whole movie by memory. Any time it comes on TV, I always watch it even if it was on the night before.

In 1971, the superintendent of the high school asked Boone to coach the football team, over the current Coach Yoast, who was white. However, Coach Boone was not just coaching; he was bringing people together, two races that have been brought up to not like each other. This was a challenge, but a challenge he wanted to take.

Boone started off the night by talking about all of the racial issues that were happening during that time. Boone did this to help us realize how difficult it was to bring all of the male athletes together as one. He worked on respect because he believed that was the greatest thing for a team. Boone discussed how at the first team meeting, many white kids told him they did not want to play for him because he was black, and many black kids told him they did not want to play because they did not want to be on the same team as the white players. However, Boone said, “Once they learned to respect one another for their differences, they really became the team I believed they could be.”

Boone gave us some insight about his coaching skills and about the movie. My favorite part of the movie was when he took the athletes to Gettysburg College for football camp. This is when the guys began to realize their differences and embrace them. One scene from the movie showed Boone waking them up at 3 am for a run to the location of the Battle of Gettysburg. However during his talk, he told us that did not actually happen; instead of running at 3 am, he took them on buses at 9 pm. This was a little disappointing for me because during this part the boys were really starting to become closer. They would not let one of their teammates fall behind.

On the bus back from football camp, Coach Boone said, “I saw a black man dancing to country western music and that is when I knew I had a football team.”

To make the night even better we got free green t-shirts which said, “Remember the Bison” (a good one for Nichols). At the end of the speech Coach Boone signed autographs. The line was long and I could not wait, but that goes to show how truly inspirational he was and how much students enjoyed his presentation.

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