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Movie inspiration Boone to speak Thursday in Columbus


Adam Minichino



The timing turned out to be better this year. 


A year ago, Dr. Thomas Velek, director of the Ina E. Gordy Honors College at the Mississippi University for Women, tried to coordinate schedules to get Herman Boone to speak at the Gordy Honors College Forum Series. 


If the name Herman Boone doesn't sound familiar, the movie "Remember the Titans" might be more familiar. Boone, the head football coach at T.C. Williams High School, was the inspiration behind the movie, which came out in 2000 and starred Denzel Washington. 


Unfortunately, Velek wasn't able to coordinate a good time to have Boone come to Columbus last year.  


At 6 p.m. Thursday, though, Boone will deliver a presentation titled "Remembering the Titans: Coaching Success." The event, which is free and open to the public, will be in the Limbert Assembly Room in Cochran Hall on the MUW campus. 


Velek said Boone will speak about his time with the Titans and about his longtime career as a coach. He said Boone will show clips from the film and discuss the things he believes make a successful coach. Boone will hold a meet-and-greet after his presentation. 


"This year is one of those things that worked out better," Velek said. "It fits in better with our programming this year." 


Boone is the second in a lineup of speakers that will focus on athletics. On March 6, Dr. Katharine Kittredge, of Ithaca College, will offer a presentation "My So-Called Sporting Life: What Women Can Gain (and Lose) from Playing Sports." On March 27, three-time Olympian swimmer Amanda Beard will deliver a presentation titled "Striving for Excellence: Olympic Success and Real-Life Challenges." On April 3, Dr. Dorothy Berglund, of MUW, will offer a presentation "Ice Flow: Positive Psychology in Coaching and Training Athletes." 


Velek, who is a History professor at MUW, also is a coach and director of competitive soccer for the Columbus United travel soccer program. He said he is extremely excited to hear Boone's insights about coaching. He also expects a good crowd, so he encourages those interested in attending to get there early. 


"I talked to (MUW President) Dr, (Jim) Borsig and we thought it would be a good semester to have coach Boone come to our school because looking own the road we are looking at bringing athletics back to the school," Velek said. "Since I have been there, we always have had a presentation during Black History Month that features a major African-American." 


Boone gained fame in 1971 for being the head coach at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., Three schools were integrated to form T.C. Williams High, and Boone faced the task of trying to unite black and white players from schools that had been rivals. 


Boone worked with Bill Yoast, who was passed over for the head coaching job, to lead the team to a 13-0 record and a state title. The coaches worked together to stamp down intolerance and build team chemistry and unity in the small Virginia community. 


Boone wasn't available to comment because his agent said he doesn't give interviews. Velek said Boone will be able to offer a wide-ranging perspective on the racial aspects of coaching in 1971 and the issues he encountered as a coach in trying to blend black and white players into a cohesive unit. 


"I am very interested to hear what he says about coaching and about a very interesting time in American history," Velek said.  


Past speakers at the Gordy Honors College Forum Series include: Bill Roseman, editor of Marvel Comics, activist and author Dick Gregory, Marine veteran Rudy Reyes, Lt. General Russel Honore, the commander of Joint TAsk Force Katrina, and Mark Zupan, a gold medal paralympian and star of the movie "Murderball." 


Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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