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William Maurice Bennett

Distinguished athlete and coach William Maurice Bennett was born on October 15, 1915 in Richmond, Virginia. His mother worked in a tobacco factory and his father was a barber. His parents separated when he was a small child and his mother moved to Hampton and remarried. Bennett received his early education in Richmond at the Moore Street school until he moved to Hampton to live with his mother. He earned his high school diploma from I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he was a stellar a track and football athlete. While in high school he set a state record for the 440 that stood for twenty years.

Following his high school graduation, Bennett attended Virginia State University on a football scholarship. While at VSU, Bennett won two CIAA track championships, honors in the Penn Relays, three varsity letters in football and was selected to play in the College All-Star game against the Chicago Bears in 1941. Bennett received his bachelor’s of science degree in physical education in 1941. That same year he was also drafted into the army and stationed at Ft. Lee, Virginia. He served in the military until 1945, and while a soldier he developed an interest in boxing and was named the lightweight boxing champion. Following his honorable discharge from the army, Bennett earned his masters degree in education from Columbia University in 1946.

Shortly after marrying in 1946, Bennett received a job as a biology teacher and football coach at Phenix High School in Hampton, Virginia. He left Phenix in 1953 when he was offered the head football and track coach position at his alma matter Virginia State.

Bennett coached football and track at Virginia State for over thirty years, a duration in which he coached nearly 50 All-Americans including Wilber “Pony” Wilson. In 1954, under Bennett’s leadership, Wilson broke the long jump record and qualified for the Olympic Trials. Bennett also led the VSU Trojans to victory in ten conference championships and two CIAA championships. Bennett was named Coach of the Year in 1962, 1972, 1977, 1979 and 1983. In 1982, Bennett was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame.

Bennett passed away on June 6, 2007 at age 91.

Accession Number

A2004.106

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/22/2004

10/13/2004

Last Name

Bennett

Maker Category
Middle Name

M.

Schools

I.C. Norcom High School

Virginia State University

George Washington Carver Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Richmond

HM ID

BEN02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hampton, Virginia

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/15/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak

Death Date

6/7/2007

Short Description

College track coach and college football coach William Maurice Bennett (1915 - 2007 ) was recognized by the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association hall of fame for his work as head football and track and field coach at Virginia State University. In his thirty-year career, Bennett coached nearly fifty All-Americans, won ten conference championships and two CIAA championships.

Employment

United States Army

Phenix High School

Virginia State University

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208566">Tape: 1 Slating of William Maurice Bennett's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208567">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208568">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208569">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his stepfather, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208570">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his stepfather, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208571">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his extended family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208572">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his earliest memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208573">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes special memories and holidays from his early childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208574">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his childhood neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208575">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Richmond, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208576">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his experiences at Moore Street School in Richmond, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208577">Tape: 1 William Maurice Bennett describes his experience attending Moore Street Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208578">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett describes his childhood interest in sports and living in Portsmouth, Virginia as a teenager</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208579">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett talks about playing sports at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208580">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett describes his experiences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208581">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett talks about playing sports at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208582">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett talks about his football and track coaches and balancing sports with academics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208583">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett recalls graduating Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia in 1941 with plans to be a teacher</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208584">Tape: 2 William Maurice Bennett describes being drafted into the U.S. Army and boxing while in the Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208585">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett talks about meeting his wife, Katherine Bennett</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208586">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett talks about being a coach and teacher at George P. Phenix School in Hampton, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208587">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett talks about being hired as a coach by Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208588">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett talks about coaching Wilbur "Pony" Wilson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208589">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett describes changes at Virginia State University during his decades of coaching</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208590">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett talks about preparing for big games against Virginia State University's rival Hampton University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208591">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett describes influences on his coaching style</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208592">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett describes his typical routine as a coach</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208593">Tape: 3 William Maurice Bennett reflects upon his successes as a coach</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208594">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett describes what he looks for in a potential athlete</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208595">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett reflects upon the quality of athletes at historically black colleges and universities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208596">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett reflects upon the quality of the athletic programs at historically black colleges and universities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208597">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett talks about the benefits and shortfalls of attending a historically black college or university</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208598">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett reflects upon how to measure a coach's success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208599">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/208600">Tape: 4 William Maurice Bennett offers advice for those who want to pursue coaching</a>