(Gray News) - William “Bill" Yoast, the legendary high school coach who helped unify a racially divided Alexandria, Va. during the 1971 football season, has passed away.
He was 94 years old.
Yoast was famously portrayed by Will Patton in the 2000 film “Remember The Titans,” which followed T.C. Williams’ 1971 integration and football season.
Yoast had been the head coach at the all-white Francis C. Hammond High School. He led Hammond to the state championship in 1970 but became the defensive coach when he joined Williams’ staff under head coach Herman Boone.
Until that point, Williams had been an all-black school.
The Supreme Court outlawed segregation in schools with the “Brown v. Board of Education” ruling in 1954. Even so, Virginia delayed integration with a campaign called “The Massive Resistance.”
The school district merged three schools in 1971: Hammond, Williams and George Washington High.
Hammond and Washington were converted to middle schools. Williams was turned into a two-year school that taught juniors and seniors, which created a squad full of experienced upperclassmen.
It led the Titans to a state championship that season.
Yoast was born in 1924 in Florence, Alabama. He and his wife, Betty, had four daughters and seven grandkids.
He was a graduate of Coffee High School before serving three years in the Air Force. He attended Georgia Military College and Mercer University where he earned an undergrad degree in physical education.
He obtained a master’s from Peabody College.