Monday, November 02, 2009

Focus on football

During their lengthy chat before Saturday's game, neither Yale football coach Tom Williams nor his Columbua counterpart Norries Wilson brought up the history-making achievement they were about to partake in.

In the long, storied history of Ivy League football, never has a conference game featured two African-American head coaches - until Saturday.

Wilson, in his fourth season, is the first black head football coach in Ivy League history. Williams, hired in January, is the second. Dr. C. Kevin Harrison, the Associate Director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics In Sport, was at Wien Stadium for the historic event. But for Williams and Wilson, the focus was on leading their teams to a much-needed win.

"The significance of the day is not lost on either one of us, we both appreciate the opportunities to be head coaches and African-American coaches," said Williams after his Yale team rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs' first conference road win of the season. "I think we are both proud of our heritage, that is something we stand behind and are very proud of but at the end of the day it was Yale versus Columbia. It wasn't Tom Williams versus Norries Wilson. We are happy to take this win home for Yale, I am happy to be a representative of the African-American community but this is all about two universities and two football teams."

Before the game, Williams was introduced to Dr. Harrison by Wilson and a few photos were snapped. Then the two coaches went their separate ways to do what they were hired to do - coach their football teams.

"Before the game, we talked about Tom's kids, his wife getting acclimated to New Haven," Wilson said. "He's worried about how they are going to handle the winter. We didn't talk about that (coaching matchup). It is probably something for our kids to talk about when they grow up. He wants to win football games and I want to win football games. The bottom line is they don't put in the paper that a black coach won, they put in the paper that Yale won. It is an issue but it is not an issue for me and Coach Williams, we just have to go out and be the best coaches we can be for the young men we coach, for the young men who are trying to compete in the position we are in."

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