Bill Yoast, one of the coaches of the legendary T.C. Williams High School 1971 state championship-winning football team, the integrated group of players memorialized by the Disney movie "Remember the Titans," has died. He was 94.
According to Alexandria City Public Schools, Coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington in the film) "took the position at T.C. Williams when he was told that the town of Williamston in North Carolina was not ready for a black head coach."
Yoast, already known as a legendary coach at the all-white Francis C. Hammond High School, was the defensive coach for the team.
The two "put aside personal pride and pulled together to solidify a diverse coaching staff and team into the most successful team in the state in 1971," the school system says. The team won the state championship that year.
"It was not easy," Boone told ACPS Friday. "People were not accepting integration. But you could see it in Bill Yoast. You can’t fake believing. You can lie about things, but you cannot fake your beliefs.
"Bill was not going to allow racial differences to exist in this city. He and I found a way to talk to each other and trust each other.”
This month is the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which required school districts to integrate. Alexandria’s efforts to integrate were delayed for five years, according to ACPS, by the Commonwealth's "Massive Resistance" campaign.
Yoast was a U.S. Air Force veteran and earned a bachelor of arts in physical education from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. His master’s degree was from Peabody College, in Nashville, Tenn.
After working in Sparta, Georgia, as a football, basketball, baseball and track coach, Yoast moved to Roswell and taught track and football for seven years. He moved to Alexandria, where he coached Francis C. Hammond High School and led them to regional champs in 1969 before coaching at T.C. Williams High School. He spent a total of three decades coaching in Alexandria.
He and his wife, Betty, had four daughters and seven grandchildren. He enjoyed golfing, fishing and working out.