T.C. Williams High School is honoring the two football coaches that made the school famous in Remember the Titans by making them honorary members of the Alexandria City Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame.
Coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast will be honored alongside Coach Glenn Furman, their assistant coach when the Titans won the State Championship in 1971.
Five athletes will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the event before the T.C. Williams and W.T. Woodson High School basketball game on Friday, February 12.
Dee Talbert, a T.C. Williams High School graduate and outstanding athlete, who was the first Alexandrian to be killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, will also be honored.
The public will be invited to a showing of the movie that followed the story of the Titans before the basketball game and VIP reception in recognition of the athletes and coaches being honored.
Coach Boone took the position at T.C. Williams when he was told that the town of Williamston in North Carolina was not ready for a black head coach. He was appointed as T.C. Williams’ head coach when the City of Alexandria integrated its high schools. Working alongside Yoast, a legendary coach at the all-white Francis C. Hammond High School with several years seniority and a steadfast City following, the two coaches put aside personal pride and pulled together to solidify a diverse coaching staff and team into the most successful team in the state in 1971.
In December 1971, President Richard Nixon was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “The Titans of Alexandria saved the City of Alexandria.”
As well as the three football coaches, five athletes will also be honored at the event in February.
“We want to congratulate and recognize some of the most successful coaches and athletes in the history of Alexandria City Public Schools. In future years we will recognize other groups of coaches and championship teams in the same way, as honorary members. We are proud to have so many great athletes to acknowledge,” said Mark Eisenhour, Athletic Hall of Fame Advisory Group Chair.
John Kemper, a basketball player from the George Washington High School Class of 1964, will be honored as one of the greatest all around athletes to come out of the City of Alexandria.
Kemper, who went on to have a distinguished career in engineering and construction, was awarded nine varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. He was named All Met in football in 1963, Alexandria’s Outstanding High School Athlete in 1963 and 1964 and All Northern Region in basketball in 1963. In 1999, he was honored as one of Alexandria’s 100 all-time greatest athletes and in 2003 he was given the Alexandria Sportsman’s Club Gene Bode Memorial Hall of Fame Award.
Michael Casey, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1971, is the second basketball player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. He played professionally in Venezuela and then went on to earn his Masters and Doctoral degrees while serving as a career educator both in the District of Columbia and Alexandria. One of the premier post players in T.C. Williams history, Casey was selected First Team All-Tournament in the district and regional tournaments and led T.C. Williams High School to the regional finals. He went on to play with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, the first historically black college to be ranked in the Associated Press Top 20 Poll.
Clark Mercer, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1998 and later summa cum laude Yale graduate and Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, was the first soccer super star to come out of Alexandria City Public Schools. As a goalkeeper and captain of the T.C. Williams soccer team, he was named District and Regional Player of the Year. He also played football for both T.C. Williams and Yale, and was First Team All-State his senior year at T.C. Mercer also competed in indoor track and served as team captain in his junior and senior years. He has since volunteered as youth soccer coach in Alexandria including a stint as an assistant coach for the varsity squad at T.C. Williams High School.
Football player Ratcliff Thomas graduated from T.C. Williams High School in 1992 where he was named first team all Met, first team All State and Virginia Defensive Player of the Year at linebacker as a senior. He also excelled at running back rushing for over 1,000 yards. In addition to football, he was also a force on the basketball court averaging over 20 points a game his senior year.
Thomas was drafted to play for the Carolina Panthers in 1997 and then went on to enjoy a productive career with the Indianapolis Colts where he was a defensive and special teams standout. In 1999, he was named to the Sports Illustrated All Pro team while with the Colts. Following his professional career, Thomas returned to Alexandria where he has served has a mentor to the City’s youth, including time as an assistant coach for the Titans football squad.
Kelly Mercer, T.C. Williams High School Class of 1992, is one of the most outstanding track athletes ever to compete for T.C. Williams High School. She earned an unprecedented five state titles during her junior and senior years, winning individual titles indoors in the 1,000 meters in 1991 and 1992 and running a leg of the championship 800 meter relay for the 1991 team that earned the school’s first team title. Mercer, who went on to compete for Georgetown University where she graduated second in her class, capped her high school career finishing second in the nation in the 1-mile run at the Golden West Invitational. She is now an oncologist at the University of Virginia Hospital, while volunteering as an elementary school sports coach.
“Last year’s Inaugural Hall of Fame induction event was incredible and we are hoping that each year just gets bigger and better. We truly want to make it a city-wide family event that Alexandrians will always remember and look forward to attending every year,” said School Board member Bill Campbell.