Herman Boone
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Herman Boone

Remember the Titans

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About Him

Grew Up… in North Carolina, the youngest of nine. Boone’s mother and father died within a month of each other when he was 15.

Living… in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, in the early 1970s. Boone and his family are new to town – they moved from North Carolina after he was passed over for a coaching job he felt he had earned. In Alexandria, his is one of the only black families in the neighborhood.

Profession… new head football coach at T.C. Williams High School, which has just been integrated. Previously, Boone won several championships coaching high school ball in North Carolina. He is a talented speaker and a strict disciplinarian. As he tells one of his players: “This is no democracy – this is dictatorship. I am the law.” A hardcore traditionalist, he keeps only six plays in his offensive playbook. He abhors trick plays. Rather, he believes the game is all about execution, fundamentals, and toughness.

Interests… coaching football, pure and simple. Boone truly regards football as his sanctuary. The football field is just; the scoreboard does not factor in race or creed. The fact that the game is his sanctuary , however, doesn’t mean Coach Boone never gets nervous. In fact, he throws up before his first game at T.C. Williams.

Relationship Status… married. Herman and his wife Carole have two daughters. Boone proudly identifies as a “family man.”

Challenge… getting his players to play as a team despite their racial differences. Boone’s first year at T.C. Williams is the first year of desegregation and busing in the Alexandria School District, and neither the whites nor the blacks seem eager to play alongside each other. To break down the racial divide, he assigns each player a roommate of the opposite color at preseason camp, and holds brutal three-a-day practices that help the team bond. Whether that will be enough to win over a racially torn town, never mind take home a coveted state championship, remains to be seen.

Personality… proud, punctual, and ambitious. Boone has two sides – Boone the citizen and Boone the football coach. Boone the citizen marched with Martin Luther King; he is measured and dignified. Boone the football coach is often snarling, demanding, and “doesn’t give a damn about how sensitive these kids are.” He cares deeply about his players, but believes that going easy on them means “crippling them for life.” He believes if he asks much of them, they will rise to the occasion. That belief will certainly be tested at T.C. Williams.

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