Subject of the 2011 Academy Award winning best documentary feature, Undefeated
Author, Against the Grain: A Coach’s Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love (2014)
Founder, owner, and operator of Classic American Hardwoods, a $45 million dollar lumber company
2013 inductee into the society of Entrepreneurs
Speaker and consultant for organizations such as Nike, PepsiCo, the USOC Paralympic Leadership Conference, The FedEx Leadership Live Conference, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
BA in Psychology from the University of Mississippi
Married with four children
Undefeated Coach on Going Against the Grain
The 700 Club
Undefeated. In this award winning film, Bill coaches a small football team of at-risk teenagers at a high school in the inner city of Memphis. The school had only won seven games in the previous ten years and Bill helped turn them into a winning team. More importantly, Bill helped the players overcome obstacles off the field. Many of the students lacked fathers, lived in poverty, and lacked vision for the future. Bill not only coached them in football but also taught them invaluable lessons that helped them overcome the odds against their success. By following Bill’s guidance, many of the students got into universities with scholarships with a bright future.
A COACH’S WISDOM
Bill’s many avenues of experience have taught him much about character, faith, family, and love. He believes that character is the bedrock of one’s ability to be successful. Bill famously says in Undefeated, “You think football builds character. It does not. Football reveals character.” He also writes, “Only with character, which requires the courage to be totally honest with yourself, will one realize how other principles can have a profound impact.” There are many other principles that Bill believes build off of the foundation of character, such as commitment and service.
Commitment is a virtue that Bill believes is extremely important to every individual on and off the field. He reveals that there are many things in this life that we do not have control over but we do have control over our word. Bill says, “Each time you break your word, you chip away at the bond you have with the people you cherish.” He reveals the importance of keeping your word and following through on commitments. Service is another principal that Bill has strong convictions about. He believes that we all have a duty and a responsibility to serve others in our community. By serving others, we are able to create a better world and incidentally the server is more rewarded than the individuals he or she serves. Bill touches more deeply on the subject of service by prompting people to make sure that their philanthropic efforts are not just to draw attention or to make themselves feel better.
Bill also shares about the importance of creating a legacy with one’s life. He believes that everyone has the ability to make new and better choices each day. He states, “No one but you has control over your legacy,” he adds, “That’s a choice you face every day in terms of your attitude and commitment. Making the right choice, which can mean taking some every difficult steps to abide by the principles that truly matter, will lead you on path to a legacy you and those close to you will always cherish. Even if you have to go against the grain.”
Bill Courtney was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. His father left when Bill was young and his mother raised him by herself. Bill received a four-year academic scholarship and went to the University of Mississippi. He was a feature writer for the Daily Mississippian and later became a weekly columnist. Bill was raised in the Church but started taking his faith in Jesus seriously when he was married and they were having children. Bill began to seek God daily and found personal relationship with Him, which in turn influenced his coaching and leadership. In 2001, Bill founded Classic American Hardwoods, which has since become a $45 million dollar company.
Bill took on the task of coaching high school football for the Manassas Tigers, a high school in an underprivileged area. Bill joined to only help for a couple weeks, which turned into six years of coaching. Undefeated, a feature documentary was filmed about Bill and the football team, which won the academy award in 2011. Bill currently coaches his son’s football team and continues running his business. He cofounded Man Rise, an organization that gives financial support to help five city schools with their football programs.
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