Bill Elder has twenty-five years' experience as a college athletic director, ten as chairperson of departments of physical education, and twenty-one years as a physical education professor. He served on the President's Cabinet at both the University of Mobile and Lindsey Wilson College, and worked as head basketball coach at the University of Mobile, the University of Montevallo and Northeast State Junior College. He has been inducted into both the NAIA Basketball Coaches' Hall of Fame and the University of Montevallo Sports Hall of Fame, and was recognized by the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame for his contribution to athletics in the city of Mobile. He has a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Alabama and a M.S. in physical education from the University of Tennessee. He earned his B.S. at Samford University in physical education.
As the recent film Glory Road reminded, the early desegregation of college sports often was neither easy nor pleasant. Here Bill Elder recalls how he and a courageous group of white and black student-athletes broke racial barriers at a small college in northeast Alabama in the early 1970s. The setting was Sand Mountain, an area which four decades earlier had given rise to the Scottsboro Boys case, and where racial attitudes for some had not changed much. Elder has recently retired from a successful career as a college sports administrator, but here he shows vividly why he sometimes wondered whether he and his players would live through their experience. Abandoned by their school officials, the players faced constant threats and harassment and occasional violence. But they kept playing and winning games and forging bonds between themselves that lasted long after that first season was over. Through it all, Elder, an Alabama native and lifelong Baptist, watches his community with both a loving and an objective eye. His brief eyewitness account of both the worst and best elements of Southerners during this tumultuous era is compelling testimony.