Sunday, April 1, 2007

An Honorary Trojan

With the May approaching, we here at the University of Southern California like many other universities around the nation prepare for graduation. For this reason I thought that I would write a post about who I would nominate as an honorary degree recipient in my field of sports psychology and sports rehabilitation. My decision was based on the following principles values that we bestow in our university mascot Tommy Trojan which are, being faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious as well as those proposed by James Freedman in which an honorary degree "celebrate sublime and d achievement. While there were many people that came to mind I feel that there is one that stood out above the rest. That person is Herman Boone, former coach of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Many people are familiar with Coach Boone because of the movie Remember the Titans, which was based on his first year of coaching at this institution.

Coming into T.C Williams High School in 1971, Boone was faced with an enormous challenge of coaching a mixed race team. T.C. Williams was a high school formed from the integration of three schools in Alexandria. This was a court ordered integration, so while the courts were ready for the schools to integrate, most of Alexandria was not ready. During this time, racial tensions were high and he was taking the place of an all white team with hopes from the community that it would be Coach Bill Yoast, a legendary white coach with several years seniority that took over the team. Instead Coach Yoast was named assistant coach by Herman Boone and Coach Boone officially took the challenge not only to put together a winning football team, but to teach his players to respect him and each other, and he also had to deal with gaining the respect in the community of Alexandria and the football community.

As a football coach he demanded perfection from his players starting from the day they met. This was shown by him leading the Titans to a perfect season. Coach Boone had to overcome adversity not just on the playing field, but in life. He wanted to show that the color of a man's skin does not matter but his actions do. Coach Boone brought together an entire community through a game. By doing what he did in Alexandria he kept alive a dream that his mentore, Martin Luther King Jr. had which was to have a dream.

I feel that Coach Herman Boone fits right in to the standard of Tommy Trojan and therefore a righteous nominee as an honorary graduate of USC. His battle with adversity, his involvement in the community and being a family man I believe has earned him this rightful nomination. Since Coach Boone has retired from his very successful coaching career at T.C. Williams High School, he spends his time giving presentations around the world about respect, teamwork, community involvement and importance of character. Another great honor in his name is the trophy given in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which is a game between high school All-American seniors from the East and West side of the country, is named after him. If he were to speak to us at graduation he would speak of his struggles within a community. He would impose on us the morals and ideas that he placed on his team; brotherhood, teamwork, and the acceptance of change. And he would want us to remember everything that his team did for their community and apply it to the world today.

He is truly a person of great character, integrity and a symbol of social transformation. He overcame a time of racial tension and was also a very good coach. He is an all around man. While officially retired from coaching the game of football, he is still a coach. He coaches and motivates people’s lives. He is an outstanding role model to all those in my field and to all those that aren’t.

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