Authors: Steve Sullivan
THE BILL YOAST STORY
LESSONS LEARNED FROM A
CELEBRATED COACH’S JOURNEY
AS TOLD TO
Copyright © 2005 by Steve Sullivan
First Taylor Trade Publishing edition 2005
First paperback edition 2007
All rights reserved
. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or
by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and
retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except
by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review.
Published by Taylor Trade Publishing
An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706
Estover Road, Plymouth PL6 7PY, United Kingdom
NATIONAL BOOK NETWORK
The hardback edition of this book was previously
cataloged by the Library of Congress as follows:
Yoast, Bill R.
Remember this Titan : the Bill Yoast story : lessons learned from a
celebrated coach’s journey / as told to Steve Sullivan.—1st Taylor Trade
1. Yoast, Bill R. 2. Football coaches—United States—Biography.
3. Football—Coaching. I. Sullivan, Steven D. II. Title.
ISBN-13: 978-1-58979-278-4 (cloth: alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-58979-278-5 (cloth: alk. paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-58979-336-1 (pbk.: alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-58979-336-6 (pbk.: alk. paper)
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements
of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of
Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America.
Betty, Angela, Susan Gail, Bonnie, Sheryl, Dee Dee
by Richard Ardia
by Steve Sullivan
You are about to enter the world of Bill Yoast, so buckle up. This journey is not
for the meek. It is filled with heartache, heartbreak, and hairpin turns. From the
very beginning Bill Yoast had it tough and as he navigated his environment it got
tougher. Thankfully he was up for it.
For most of us, we are not prepared for many of life’s challenges. We learn little
about ourselves and others when we are on cruise control. As Bill Yoast points out,
the most important lessons are learned when the riding gets rough. Through adversity
the best stuff sticks. In hardship, character is built.
The author, Steve Sullivan, has captured the essence of what makes Bill Yoast different.
There is not a word wasted. This story is about a man who knew from the very beginning
that other people count the most.
We live in a time when heroes are quickly fading from view. Thankfully there are people
like Bill Yoast who we can turn to for inspiration.
It was not the record-breaking achievements obtained on the gridiron that made this
coach “A Titan to Remember.” It was his ability to see and develop talents in those
touched. He possessed a quiet strength; an invisible power that awakened the spirit
in others. Bill Yoast knew how to build people. He knew that success off the field
mattered more than what happened between the hash marks.
Steve Sullivan tells it like it was and not the way it should have been. The mistakes,
the pain, the doubt is there. Bill Yoast was ahead of his time in racial equality
and behind the time in seeking personal glory. Because of Bill Yoast kids became better.
Some became great.
We often look to find our heroes from their accomplishments during major world events.
What we often fail to recognize is that it was probably a coach, often not even known,
who helped shape the character, integrity, and courage of those men and women that
went on to achieve so much.
The lessons chronicled in this book should be required reading for everyone that wants
to make a contribution. The author will take you to the edge of the cliff, where the
view is the best. And from that vantage point, you will see, feel, and remember why
Bill Yoast has been called an American hero.
Gerry is dead
. The statement landed like a thunderbolt. As I put the phone down, I reflected on
the young man I had known for a decade. From the first moment he walked through my
door, I knew he was something special. I wasn’t sure why but deep in my gut I had
a feeling that Gerry Bertier and I were cut from the same bolt of cloth. I felt from
the beginning that we were going on a journey joined at the hip.
You might think that a forty-five year old man with five kids and a lot of dust behind
him would not be so easily captivated by a teenager. I myself was not sure what it
was about Gerry that made him so appealing. He was enthusiastic, smart, and funny,
but then there are many young men that carry that profile. It had nothing to do with
his extroverted persona or his athletic ability. It was much deeper than that. When
I looked at Gerry Bertier, I saw a man who was going to accomplish something. You
only had to share a little time with him to know that he cared about things that were
much greater than himself. When you broke into a conversation with Bertier it wasn’t
a frivolous event. The
man was large but the things he cared about were even bigger.
He was an original, in every way. He was a man who lived the values he embraced. In
the world of Gerry Bertier, integrity was not a word but a lifestyle. In Gerry’s universe,
duty, honor, and country were the coins of the realm. Determination, loyalty, and
devotion were his breakfast of champions. Gerry believed that kindness was its own
reward. In his world, the goal was to give more than you got. He also believed that
accountability was for everyone. And that made him tough, with a capital T. It wasn’t
his inclination. He just understood no one becomes better by taking the easy way out.
If you tried, you and Gerry were going to the mat.
From a hospital bed he energized a community. We can thank him for his leadership,
his commitment, and his caring. It was at the heart of everything he did. I miss Gerry
Bertier. I regret that our friendship ended in an instant. I’m not sad though. Gerry
may be gone, but his spirit is as alive as the day we met.
Over the years I’ve been queried about Gerry Bertier. I’ve been asked about the Titans.
Each time a question is posed I’m teleported to another place. Sometimes the Titans
appear but more often than not I find myself in an unknown zone looking for answers.
The visions are not as vivid as they used to be but they are clear enough. In the
distance I see a dirt road splitting into a fragmented maze. I hesitate not knowing
which path is right for me. I make a choice. The journey continues. Another maze appears.
Suddenly I’m on a freeway. Things are speeding up. A world I didn’t know existed appears
in the windshield. The image vanishes. I’m
brought back to reality when someone hollers, “Hey Coach.”
Forty-seven years they called me Coach. For more than four decades young men and women
walked through my door. Looking back on it, I have a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished.
I attempted to do my best with whatever was thrown my way. Sometimes it worked and
sometimes it didn’t. I’ve been given credit when credit wasn’t due and I’ve been the
fall guy when I was ready for a pat on the back. On balance, I have no complaints.
And now that I have reached the twilight of this life and reflected back on how I
got here, one thing becomes apparent. Of the thousands of kids that came into my life,
seldom did I ever give more than I got.