Video: Renown coach speaks to UNF students


Actors often portray the stories of people who are able to accomplish unbelievable things off the movie set and in real life.

One of these real-life heroes, Herman Boone, whose story was the basis for the movie “Remember the Titans,” visited UNF Feb. 23. Invited by the African American Student Union, Boone spoke to UNF students, faculty and staff to inspire them in their life’s journey.

Boone is famous for his time as the football head coach at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., during which he played a major role in integrating the school and navigating several problems the football team encountered.

This was captured on the big screen in 2000, when “Remember the Titans” was made to honor the achievements of Boone and his team. Boone believes the movie is an accurate representation of the events at T.C. Williams and that it helped him reach many other people in his life, he said.

More than 35 students attended Boone’s speech in the Robinson Theater, in which he spent time answering several personal questions from different students and took time to stand among the crowd rather than lecture from the podium. After the ceremony, Boone mingled with the audience and shared more of his many stories.

“Each time I speak, I tailor what I’m saying to the specific audience that I’m speaking to,” Boone said.  “It’s important for these kids to hear positive messages of encouragement.”

Boone said football is a great way to teach children the fundamentals of becoming better adults, including skills to help them mature and perform better under pressure.

“It’s important for the people of society to take an interest in young people,” he said.  “Because they are the future, and if we don’t teach them properly, there won’t be any.”

As evidenced in the award-winning film, Boone has lived through and fought against segregation his entire life. For him, this was rewarded when President Barack Obama was elected, and the two were able to talk. It represented the realization of part of his hopes and dreams, he said.

“I believe that any person of any race should have a chance to live their life the way they want to and chase their dreams,” Boone said.

As for his other life-long dream, Boone said if he could be any animal it would be a bird because he would love to sit from far above and watch kids grow and succeed as they move through life.

“I would love to be an Osprey,” Boone said.  “I think that would suit me just fine.”

E-mail John Weidner at [email protected]