This story began in Alexandria, Virginia, in July 1971. At the time white and black student all went to T. C William High School, although there was no such thing as friendship between them. In that time, football high school was way of life.
Introducing Coach Yoast, football head coach inT.C William High School. The team was The Titans. He had a daughter, Sheryl, who’d accompany and assist him in the field. Sheryl was nut about football. Suddenly, to the delight of black people, the school board replaced Yoast with a black man named Coach Boone. This infuriated Yoast’s students, all white, all stubbornly refused to play for a black man who – from their point of view – had stolen their coach’s job. But Yoast, however bad he might be feeling, managed to bring them back to their senses and brought them to the place where Boone would be coaching.
Coach Yoast accepted Coach Boone’s offer to assisthim as defense players’s coach. But he required him to accept his old assistant Coach Tyrell. Boone agreed. Coach Boone also announced that there’d be a camp in Gettysburg College. The players were divided into 2 bus. As predicted, the white collected in one bus and the black in another.Nauseated about this apparent racism, he asked all of them to get off and put offense players in one bus, defense on another. He also assured that they sat with different-raced friend and roomed them with different race friend.
Of course there were fights between them, who still thought that white and black race were destined to be enemy instead of friend. Everybody, except Lewis Lastik, who could make friends with some black players like Rev or Jerry Harris. Lewis inspired Coach Boone to ask all players to ‘interview’ their friends from different race and report back to him. Unfortunately, it didn’t make a significant difference.
But Coach Boone, who had a good head on his shoulders, still had a way to open their eyes to unite in diversity. He woke them up on 3 p.m. in the morning, made them running to a field near an old graveyard. There he told them about the death of 50.000 men in Battle of Gettysburg, a battle caused by apartheid, and how close they were to repeating history if they wouldn’t set aside their differences.
Quoted from Boone :
“This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.”
That short speech seemed to unite them. Now they began to sang, mocked and joked together like a friends. Even now Sheryl approved Boone as a good coach. But things changed when camp was over and they were back to town. Because in town, colors still matter.
First match of the season came, T.C Williams vs Hayfield Hawks. Sheryl got depressed that they lost 7-0. Coach Yoast then replaced Alan with Petey. It works – Titans won! In second match versus Herndon, they also won easily. But the third match with Graveton turned hard after Rev’s wrist broke and he was replaced by Ronnie, who was later crowned MVP.
After the match, Gerry decided to put Ray off the team because he missed a block. Gerry was the captain, so Coach Boone agreed with him. Ray was so disappointed. But the rest of team, who didn’t know about that enjoyed their popularity in the whole town. Then Titans followed Nothern Virginia Regional Championship Game. The game was full with deceitfulness. Lucky Titans won, but somehow it made Coach Yoast lost his chance in Hall of Fame 1971 instead of increase his opportunity, that made Sheryl so sad.
Every players then celebrated their victory in theirown way, so did Gerry. He drove his car, window opened wide and people cheering along the street. Gerry was so glad that he didn’t pay enough attention to the street, until suddenly a big truck came fast and crashed his car. Everyone was panic. Gerry was brought to the hospital and all his teammates and coach were there, waiting for him. Then Julius came. Coach Boone told him that Gerry was paralyzed from the waist down, and he only want to met Julius now. So he entered Gerry’s room to encourage him.
Undeniable, lost Gerry was a huge lost for Titans because he was so irreplaceable. Moreover, they’d fight Marshall for the next match, the last match of the season. It was hard, but with hard work, they won! Titans won!!
So The Titans, team from T. C. Williams High School became the first champion in state and the second in national championship. At the same time, Gerry Bertier got a gold medal for his shot in wheel chair game. It was Coach Yoast coached him.
Ten years later, Gerry died. His family and his friends in Titans years ago, together with all coach attended his funeral. The Titans had proved black and white could work together and triumph, harvesting their sweet, satisfying wins over their opponents, and more importantly, over the racism things.
People say that it can’t work, black and white. Here, we make it work every day. We still have our disagreements, of course, but before we reach for hate, always, always, we remember the Titans.