“Remember The Titans” – Coach Herman Boone’s Remarkable Legacy And Others, Completed In 2019

Renee Sudderth and Titans Coach Herman Boone, Photo: Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

This September 2020, the inspiring, epic movie, “Remember The Titans” (grossed $136.7 million world wide) will celebrate its 20th Anniversary (2000) with 18 Award Nominees and 8 Award Wins as of date.  However, the legend and pioneer Coach Herman Boone portrayed by Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington will not be present for this honor.

Million others and my favorite movie of all times, “Remember The Titans” on Video Cassette Recording (VCR) Tape and Digital Video Disc (DVD) – Thank you Coach Herman Boone for your legacy and thank you Denzel Washington for your legacy and bringing Coach Boone’s character to life – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

On December 18, 2019, Coach Boone left the football field forever at age 84 after battling lung cancer in Alexandria, Virginia. This city is where the movie depicted the way an integrated high school football team learned to respect, trust, and develop new friendships, to overcome racism on and off the field in 1971.

Coach Herman Boone running with players – Courtesy of T.C. Williams High School Yearbook

The filming of “Remember The Titans” on 11-20-1999 in Atlanta, Georgia while I was there for many scenes – What an Historic moment – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

The Titans’ had an undefeated season (13-0) under the first Black Head Coach, whose strong, strict disciplinary leadership brought the community and team together. They became the Virginia State Champions and the National Championship Runner-Up. President Richard Nixon said, “The team saved the City of Alexandria”.

The real life Titans who were thankful for this honor and reminisced about that historic day in 1971 when they won the Virginia State Championship and were National Runner-Up Champions (Both coaches – Coach Herman Boone, Asst. Coach Bill Yoast, Captain Julius Campbell and etc., are present) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
The real life Titans who reminisced about that historic day in 1971 when they won the Virginia State Championship and were National Runner-Up Champions – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Ironically, it was in 2019 that we were actually “Remembering the Titans” because in January, the Captain/Defensive End of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football team Julius Campbell (portrayed by Woody Harris) died of organ failure at age 65; Carol Boone, wife of Coach Boone (portrayed by Nicole Ari Parker) passed at age 83; Assistant Coach Bill Yoast (portrayed by Will Patton) passed in May at age 94; Petey Jones, Fullback, (portrayed by Donald Faison), died of prostate cancer and then before the year ended, we were saying goodbye to their Hall of Fame Head Coach, Herman Boone. 

I was privileged to have met Coach Boone here in Atlanta on Saturday, November 19, 1999 when I was an “extra” on the movie set. On this special day, Walt Disney Pictures wanted to honor the real life Coaches and Players of this historic high school team who overcame so much, all because of Coach Boone’s extraordinary leadership and determination.

Friends – Brenda Barnes, Jeanine Jackson, Renee Sudderth posing with actors in the movie, “Remember The Titans”, the day the real life Coach Herman Boone and the 1971 Titan players were honored in Atlanta, Georgia – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Twenty years ago, I didn’t realize I would be a writer, as well, as an interviewer. That day, on both sides of the football field, fans gathered in the stands. I found myself on the field in the midst of all the excitement. I saw Coach Boone and I started asking him questions, just in general conversation. Later, he asked politely, “Who are you a reporter for?” I smiled and replied, “I’m not a reporter.”

Actress “extra” Renee Sudderth with Ms. Actress; Nicole Ari Parker as Carol Boone and her movie youngest daughter – the last night on the set December 2, 1999 after the Sunday Service Church scene – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

As I review that thought, I guess Coach Boone, being the perfectionist he was, saw something in me that I wasn’t aware of at that time.  So, I will always remember this special Titan asking me that question. I do remember him saying, “This is a great day and I can’t believe they are giving us this big honor like this and Mr. Washington is making me look real important”. We both laughed.  Also, I had talked with several of the 1971 Titan teammates and it was just a great feeling seeing and hearing how they were absorbing all of this. Think for yourself, how it would feel being on a movie set where the movie is about you and what you had accomplished.

The Titan’s (1971) Frankie Glascoe (middle) who help the University of Tennessee win it’s first NCAA Outdoor Track Title in 1974 and later Glascoe was Inducted in the Athletic Hall of Fame, Feb 10, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Friends Holly Kirkpatrick (pink hat) and Renee Sudderth (brown hat) just finished filming the Championship Game scene with little actresses Hayden Panettiere “Sheryl Yoast”; Herman Boone’s youngest movie daughter; and Krysten Leigh Jones “Nicky Boone” who sat in front of us in this scene cheering- Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

I know I was in another world when I started talking to Mr. Denzel Washington who did a phenomenal acting job portraying Coach Boone. By this time, we were off the field but I was still smiling and being amazed talking to him. Denzel was enjoying this exciting day of filming and honoring the real life Titans and so was I.

Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington “Herman Boone” and Renee Sudderth (actress) on break between the filming of “Remember The Titans” on Nov 21, 1999 – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

I will always be proud of this special moment in time and being part of a movie that is used to teach football teams year after year about how you can achieve anything when you put your heart, soul, and mind together as a team and learn from each other no matter your background. In life, we achieve more when we all work together and are not divided. Therefore, Coach Boone’s techniques are always applicable at any time.

Actress Renee Sudderth cheering for Coach Herman Boone’s “Undefeated” T.C. Williams Titans to win one of their 13 games that 1971 Season – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

So, never forget the lessons taught to us by one of the greatest Titan, Coach Herman Boone and the other Titans who have passed on and for those who are still giving speech engagements. One of the teammates strongly said, “Once A Titan, Always a Titan”.

The day the T.C. Williams Titans Football team, wives and the Titans family were honored in Atlanta, Georgia while making the movie to be released the following year, September 2000 – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Actress Renee Sudderth dressed for the Sunday Service Church scene holding Herman Boone’s movie daughter ; Actress Monique; Hayden Panettiere “Sheryl Yoast” and another actress – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Thank you Mr. Herman Boone, for caring enough, giving your all in making a difference in Alexandria, Virginia and allowing the entire world to know how you made your mark in history through this movie which is my favorite movie of all times!!! We will continue to watch your movie in 2020, remember your remarkable legacy by respecting and trusting one another and being united once again, especially for our country. Yes, we will always “Remember The Titans”.

Renee Sudderth and the late Legendary Coach Herman Boone of the Virginia State Championship (1971) on November 20, 1999 when he and his team were honored in Atlanta, Georgia – “We are the Mighty Mighty Titans” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria; 3330 King Street; Alexandria, Virginia 22302 — Attn: 71 Titans Scholars; Phone (703) 824-6730 or scholarshipfund@acps.k12.va.us

15 Comments

  1. JANET CRAWFORD-IBANEZ – Jan 3, 2020 – Via EMAIL – I didn’t know that Coach Boone died last month—didn’t hear/read about that. How cool is that—you met him and took a pic with him!! AWESOME!!! And good call by a great coach to recognize your reporting skills.

  2. Wow, what a great article Renee, you covered it so well! I will never forget this movie, and to see that you were also featured in Remember The Titan, how awesome is this!! I didn’t know you were an actress as well as so many other hats you wear, a singer, etc!!! Thank you for your beautiful talented gifts that you share with your readers!!!

  3. CAROLINE TATE – Jan 4, 2020 – Via EMAIL – I can not say how impressive your article about Coach Herman Boone inspired the movie “Remember the Titans”. It was refreshing to read an article about a man who made such a difference in our country. We should show “Remember the Titans” to all schools in America. It is important for the next generation to see the movie bringing all cultures together and inspire the next generation to continue to fight for humanity, diversity and love for all. What a great article during our challenging times in America. Great job Renee.

  4. E.C. – Jan 4, 2020 – Via Text – It was a great article. I didn’t know he had died. And it’s amazing how they all died in 2019.

  5. KIM G- Jan 4, 2020 – Via EMAIL – Seriously? Is there anyone you don’t know? I’m impressed. One day I might get a chance to see you in action in the movies.

  6. TARQUIN COERBELL – Jan 6, 2020 – Via FACEBOOK – “Remember the Titans” was always a very inspirational factual story. It showed teamwork and the strength and perseverance of our people during those tumultuous times

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