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I attended T.C. Williams High School in the late ’70s and played for Coach Herman Boone and wanted to respond to the article written by Dave McKenna (“Coach Baggage,” Cheap Seats, 1/6).
Maybe Greg Paspatis has a vendetta against Coach Boone—I really couldn’t say, because I have never heard of Paspatis. My perspective, and that of a lot of players I played with, is 180 degrees from what Paspatis is mentioning. Coach Boone was a father figure to us black players and also to a lot of the white players, which McKenna could have easily found out if he had done a little homework and talked to some of the players from that era. But that would have been too much like work, right?
Was Coach Boone a tough coach? You bet he was! He made men out of boys at a time when tough love was needed.
I entered the Navy after leaving high school and always talked about my football days with Coach Boone. He gave us lessons on life when my father was too busy with his job to teach me how to grow from a boy to a man. It was football at T.C. Williams and Coach Boone that taught us how to be responsible.
Your paper found one young man who—for reasons not known to you or McKenna—has a hatred for Coach Boone and, from what I can read, is spending most of his time trying to defame one of the great high-school coaches in Alexandria and in North Carolina. Coach Boone deserves the accolades he is getting, and it sounds as though Paspatis is trying to make a name for himself on the back of Coach Boone. Maybe he sat the bench too long; I really don’t know.
If he is not going to stick to the year the movie was based on (1971) and talk about the late ’70s instead, then maybe he should also talk about the white coaches who got fired or quit in the ’80s and ’90s.
Let me get to some facts—because if I were Coach Boone I would instruct my lawyers to come after your newspaper—and I hope he does!
1. Remember the Titans was a movie based on a true story. It was not a documentary. Maybe Paspatis needs to understand the difference between the two. With all the sports research he has done, maybe some research on reality might help his perspective.
2. Most of the players from the 1971 team—of which Paspatis was not a member—would argue that even a team that is “loaded” does not guarantee a championship. I knew most of those players, and there was talent on that team—and there was also was a racial disconnect that Coach Boone had to solve to mold a championship team.
3. Annandale was not a “teensy” all-white school miles from the T.C. campus. Annandale was a powerhouse because the kids who attended had white parents who gave lots of money for that school and its sports team. T.C. Williams was not afforded the same financial windfall. And I’m not taking anything away from Coach Hardage. But Coach Hardage did not have to deal with the racial tensions that T.C. Williams had to deal with. A little homework from McKenna would have found that out.
4. Paspatis can’t challenge the X’s and O’s of Coach Boone. If he was a kicker (and neither I nor any of my classmates remember him kicking for T.C. Williams), he wouldn’t know anything about X’s and O’s anyway. Kickers just kicked, period!
5. McKenna’s source from the Washington Star with “Three Aides Resign over Coach’s Methods at T.C. Williams” is totally false. I was on that team and would love to hear who those three aides were who quit when I was playing. Also, tell me who the player was who quit the team—and, as reported in the Alexandria Port Packet, said that a coaching change “had to happen”—I guess just another unnamed source, right? There were players who couldn’t play for Coach Boone because they didn’t want the discipline—a lot of so-called athletes did not want to be told what to do in the ’70s. And the team was better off when they did quit.
6. “‘Herman Boone treated everybody horribly, no matter what race,’ says Paspatis, who calls Boone ‘arguably the most hated coach in the history of Northern Virginia high-school football.’” That statement is a disgrace, and your paper should have never allowed it to be written. That statement can come back to haunt you all, and I hope it does. He couldn’t have treated “everybody horribly,” because that would have included me and probably 300 other players who would swear in court that Coach treated his players as a coach should—he is in charge! Period!
7. Ask Paspatis: When did his Alexandria Sportsman’s Club allow black members to attend? That should have been at the end of this article.
This article is a mess, and you should really be ashamed of what you let go out in your paper.
I hope Coach Boone sues, and that he calls me to testify. I believe there will be 150 other people just like me who will tell the truth about Coach—and I have a feeling your paper will be on the losing side, because Coach has not forgotten how to gather champions for a cause.
Pembroke Pines, Fla.