152 – Bill Courtney: Coach from Academy Award Winning Documentary “Undefeated”, Public Speaker, Author

Bill CourtneyWilliam B. Courtney (Bill), a native Memphian, founded Classic American Hardwoods, Inc. in 2001. Today, it employs 120 people with a 45 acre manufacturing facility and domestic sales offices in Memphis, TN and international sales offices in Shanghai, China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In 2007, Classic American Hardwoods, Inc. won the Memphis Business Journal’s Small Business of the Year Award based on its growth and commitment to community service.

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In 2003, Bill began volunteering at Memphis’ inner city Manassas High School in an effort to turn its underperforming football team around. In 2003,bookHardCoverMain the team had 19 players with a dismal 4-95, 10-year record. In the 2008 & 2009 seasons, the team’s record improved to 18-2, with 75 players. The story was so compelling that a Hollywood film—Undefeated—was produced about it that won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary.

In 2011, Bill was inducted into Bridge Builders for leadership in diversity, community, and justice. He was the 2012 recipient of the Liberty Bowl’s Harry Zinn Spirit of 1776 award for distinguished citizenship, recipient of the Carnival Memphis’ King’s award for outstanding achievement in Business and Industry, and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of fame Memphis chapter’s award winner for The distinguished American for Contribution to Amateur Athletics. In 2013, he was inducted into the prestigious Society of Entrepreneurs as a result of his success in business and community service.

Today, Bill still operates as the President and CEO of Classic American Hardwoods. He’s a public speaker at a variety of venues from the Para Olympics in Colorado Springs to Nike, PepsiCo, FedEx, and other nationally recognized companies to churches, schools, and hospitals, and has written his first book, Against the Grain was released in May of 2014. Courtney lives with his wife and four children in Memphis, Tennessee.