Alexandria, VA – Herman Boone, Alexandria’s legendary coach of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football team, has passed away at the age of 84. Boone, who led the newly integrated team to a state championship, is being hailed by colleagues, friends, and former players as an inspiring individual who pushed people in the right direction.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that Boone played an important role in the city’s history.
“An absolute giant of our history,” Wilson said. “He played a critical role in bringing our community together during a difficult time in our City. His legacy is a generation of Titans he has helped mold as a coach and educator.”
Boone was immortalized in the 2000 film “Remember The Titans” and was played by Denzel Washington. He is the fourth Titan from the championship team to pass away this year. The other members who have passed away are Boone’s assistant coach Bill Yoast and players Petey Jones and Julius Campbell.
Herman Boone was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and successfully coached at schools around his home state before moving to Alexandria in 1971 to coach the T.C. team.
Boone and his wife, Carol, had three daughters and three grandchildren. Carol Boone passed away last year.
After Yoast’s death, Boone said that the pair created a championship team in an unlikely situation after the merging of Parker Gray High School and T.C. Williams High School.
“He was like my right hand,” Boone told The Zebra from Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, where he was recovering from pneumonia. “Bill Yoast and I created something that most teams and most people and most cultures will be better off if they learned, and that is that at the beginning we didn’t trust each other, we hardly knew each other, but when we went to Gettysburg College to practice we had to live with each other, we became roommates and we learned to talk and we learned to believe in each other and then trust each other, and trust is the greatest gift God can ever give to you to get along. We became best friends. A lot of people thought that we were enemies, but we were best friends. Whenever we got together for a meeting before a game, you better look out when we came back out.”
Former Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook, who played on the ’71 Titans, said that Boone was larger than life.
“He was truly dedicated and sincere about helping young people, and boy did he help a lot,” Cook said. “I can’t even count the number of lives he affected throughout his career. It’s a horrible loss for our community, and, in some ways the country because he traveled around the country talking about his message. He had a profound effect on me as a 17-year-old kid, and gave me sage advice and was always there, always available to talk.”
Boone continued coaching at T.C. for decades, and in his later years worked with former T.C. Williams Principal John Porter, who said he was an inspiring figure.
“He was a character, too. Always smiling and laughing, kidding around and playing practical jokes on teachers,” Porter said. “Yeah, he could be tough and tell you what he thought about how you were acting and playing, he could be very strong in letting you know that he wasn’t pleased with what you were doing, but the kids generally believed that he cared about them, that he was looking out for them, he respected them, and they respected him in return.”
There is no information available on funeral arrangements at this time.