Bill Yoast, the high school football coach whose undefeated 1971 team served as inspiration for the classic film Remember the Titans, died Friday at an assisted living home in Virginia. He was 94.
Yoast’s death was announced in a news release by the Alexandria City Public School district, where he coached and taught at T.C. Williams High School for nearly 25 years.
Yoast, who was portrayed in the Disney film by Will Patton, came on at T.C. in 1971 as defensive coordinator and assistant coach to head coach Herman Boone, played in the film by Denzel Washington.
The men’s partnership was noteworthy, as it came as Alexandria merged its three public high schools into one integrated school.
The ’71 Titans football team went undefeated and won the Virginia AAA state championship, a run that inspired the film.
“Bill was not going to allow racial differences to exist in this city,” Boone said in the release. “He and I found a way to talk to each other and trust each other.”
The former head coach also credited Yoast as the “best friend he ever had.”
Yoast was born in Alabama in 1924 and served a three-year stint in the Army Air Corps, a precursor to the Air Force, according to the Washington Post.
He went on to teach and coach in Sparta, Georgia, but reportedly left for a different city in 1954 after he was chastised for letting black players on the baseball team use the high school’s showers.
Yoast later coached at T.C. Williams from the historic 1971 season until 1996, according to the Post.
The Alexandria school district remembered him as a “quiet, humble people-person” who was “instrumental in helping pull the city together.”
He is survived by his ex-wife Betty, three daughters, and nine grandchildren, the Post reports.
His death was preceded in January by that of Julius Campbell, a student-athlete at T.C. Williams who played for the Titans and was portrayed in the film by Wood Harris.
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