Former T.C. Williams High School coach William “Bill” Yoast, a central figure in the integration of the school’s football team in 1971 and in the Disney film Remember the Titans, died Thursday at 94.
Remember The Titans, starring Denzel Washington, told the story of how the T.C. Williams coaching staff decided to break down racial barriers by building an integrated coaching staff and add both black and white players into the school’s football program. The school went on to win the State Championships that year.
Yoast passed away at the Aarondale Retirement and Assisted Living Community in Virginia on May 23. No cause of death was given, WAVY reported.
The 1971 coaching staff was assembled by Coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington in the film). Boone reportedly “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, who was played by Will Patton in the movie, was already known as a top coach at the all-white Francis C. Hammond High School and signed on as the defensive coach for T.C. Williams. Indeed, the relationship between the two coaches could have been problematic because Boone was picked as head coach over Yoast.
But according to Boone, the two developed a deep respect for each other and together determined to change school sports in Virginia forever.
Per the Washington Post, Boone praised Yoast saying, “No doubt, the beginning of our relationship was rocky. I didn’t know Yoast. Yoast didn’t know me. I knew that Hammond had no black athletes and I didn’t know if coach Yoast had anything to do with that. But we got to [training camp] and became roommates and found a way to talk to one another.”
According to the school, the two coaches “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 soft-spoken Yoast coached the track and field and golf teams during his time at the school. He also served three years in the Army Air Corps before transferring to the U.S. Air Force.
Yoast is survived by his ex-wife Betty, daughters Dee Dee Fox, Angie Garrison, and Susan Gail Greeson, and nine grandchildren.
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