PRINCETON, W.Va. — The Tony Nathan story isn’t one of the big stories in the integration of major sports. By the mid-1970s, when Nathan, now 60, was the featured half-back with the Woodlawn High School football Colonels. When Nathan attended Woodland, it wasn’t the same as it was when Bobby Bowden graduated from the same school in the post-World War II 1940s.
Bowden’s WHS was all white, and Nathan’s high school was racially diverse as a result of forced busing in the post-Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling world. That was Birmingham, and Tony Nathan’s career was smack dab in the middle of a continuing saga of racial unrest.
Something happened at Woodlawn during Nathan’s varsity years. The team experienced a collective epiphany to distance themselves from the legacy of hatred that had permeated their lives until that time and embrace a spirit of love … love of Jesus Christ.
“‘Woodlawn’ is not a just a Christian movie,” Kevin Sizemore said Friday during a telephone interview from his home in California. Sizemore portrays one of the assistant coaches on the Colonels’ football team when the team chose love over hate. “It’s not just a football movie either.”
Sizemore, a Princeton native and graduate of Princeton Senior High School, portrays Jerry Stearns. “The unique thing about Jerry is that when I got the role I went down to Birmingham to meet the real Jerry Stearns…