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OTC taps legendary coach as grad speaker

POSTED: April 7, 2014 7:59 p.m.

Herman Boone, the inspiration for the 2000 film “Remember the Titans,” will be the featured speaker for Ogeechee Technical College’s spring commencement ceremony next month, the college announced Thursday.

Boone was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie about the merger of previously segregated schools into the integrated T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, D.C. Boone was the real-life coach of T.C. Williams’ football team.

The commencement ceremony is set for May 15 at 7 p.m. at Hanner Fieldhouse on Georgia Southern University’s campus.

“We are honored to have Coach Boone address our graduates and provide insight into how to provide impactful leadership through lessons in diversity,” said Dr. Ryan W. Foley, Ogeechee Tech’s vice president for student affairs.

In 1971, racial tensions ran high at T.C. Williams as three schools merged to form a newly integrated one. Out of this experience the story of “Remember the Titans” emerged, and an undefeated football team was born.

The Titans won the state championship that year. While there have been more than 40 Virginia state championship games since then, that 1971 season, coached by Boone, will always be special.

After beating out local favorite and successful coach Bill Yoast of the formerly all-white Hammond High to become head coach of the Titans, Boone faced the challenge of a lifetime. Although honored by his appointment, he had to endure racial intolerance and the disapproval of Yoast’s supporters.

However, after putting their prejudices aside, the two coaches worked together to unify the team — a team of players whose former school rivalry was only exacerbated by the racial strain. The team came together to form a bond with a common vision — to win football games. Through hard work and by inspiring his coaching staff and players, Boone led his team to the state championship that season.

OTC commencement
• When: May 15, 7 p.m.
• Where: Hanner Fieldhouse, Georgia Souther University
• Speaker: Herman Boone, former coach of T.C. Williams High, Alexandria, Va.

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