After watching the movie, "Remember the Titans," based on the true story of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School football state champions, people still had so many questions. Paula Hines Lonergan had the answers, well, at least some of them. As the daughter of assistant coach Paul "Doc" Hines, she remembers many of the players and many of the stories about her father's coaching career. So much so that she sat down and wrote a book about her father and his experiences.
There were so many things that she never knew about her father until she started asking questions. She didn't know, for example, that her father and some other players served as bodyguards for Martin Luther King, Jr. when King visited Virginia State in 1958. Lonergan also didn't know that her father appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show with the Booker T. Choir and marched with the Booker T. Band in the inauguration parade for President Eisenhower.
"I saw a need for the book. It only took me a month [to write]. I started it on June 10 and finished it on July 10. I would just stay up until it was done," said Lonergan. "It was all in my head."
After a few rejection letters, Lonergan chose to self-publish the book. By October, the book was done. The surprising thing was that she didn't tell her parents she was doing this.
"I wanted to surprise my father," said Lonergan, who shipped the book down to Florida where Hines was speaking at a conference with some of his former players.
"I asked one of the players to give it to him," said Lonergan. "When they said it was written by his daughter, he fell off his seat. It was my parent's anniversary gift."
IN THE BOOK are old photographs of Hines and the story of his journey through life and formation of him as a man, coach, father and husband. It gives a much more inside view of him than the movie did. It also tries to answer some lingering questions.
One of those questions was how accurate the movie was. Hines believed it to be about 75 percent accurate; he also thought that Greg Williams "did an outstanding job of portraying me in the movie."
There were differences between the movie and the real story. For example, there was no Coach Tyrell and Sunshine didn't really kiss Gerry Bertier. The team didn't run through the graveyard at Gettysburg; however they were made to run at 2 a.m. in their bare feet if they broke the rules of the camp. Many other questions are answered about Bertier's car accident, the integration of the school, the rock-throwing incident at Coach [Herman] Boone's house and more. Lonergan includes an update on what some of the players are currently doing and tributes by some of the players to her father.
Earlier this year, Lonergan was at A Likely Story on King Street to promote her book. Hines was there, as were some of the former players.
Sheilah Egan, manager of A Likely Story, said, "It was quite an inspiring evening. So many players are still in touch with him. It was interesting to hear him talk."
Egan was inspired by the whole evening and thought it was amazing to learn how many of the players went on to get their degrees.
"He [Coach Hines] said that football and sports was his true love, working with young people and helping them be the best they can be."
IN ADDITION TO HER BOOK, Lonergan publishes the website for T.C. Williams, www.tcwilliams.com. This is ironic since she never attended the school; she lived and attended school in Maryland. All of her knowledge was garnered through going to games with her father.
Lonergan is also involved with the 71 Titans foundation and maintains their website, www.71originaltitans.com. The Titan Foundation, established by the coaches, players and cheerleaders from the 1971 Virginia AAA State Champion Varsity Football Team of T. C. Williams High School, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping high school students pursue post-secondary education. The Foundation provides educational support to eligible seniors from T.C. Williams High School in the form of a renewable grant for four years.
Supporters believe that post-secondary education is critical to the development and growth of our community. And while many students have the potential to excel academically, but lack the resources to pursue higher education. Providing this support the Titan Foundation is helping the community grow through the better education of its young people.
For more information about "A Titan of a Man," visit www.ATitanofaMan.com.