Bill Courtney

Football Coach

William B. Courtney (Bill), a native Memphian, founded Classic American Hardwoods, Inc. in 2001. Today, this 2001 startup company has grown to employ 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.

Bill is the author of the May 2014 book, Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love (Weinstein Books), in which he describes the importance of having character, commitment, service, leadership, civility and other traits that, in his decades of success, have proven to be the keys to a winning, sustainable and meaningful life and career. For more information on the book, please visit:

In 2003, Bill followed CAH employee and college friend Jim Tipton to volunteer at Memphis' inner city Manassas High School in an effort to turn its underperforming football team around. In 2003, the team consisted of 19 players and the team's overall previous 10 year's record was a dismal 4-95. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the team's record improved to 18-2, it boasted 75 players, and helped to bring hope to countless underprivileged, inner city youth. 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 overseeing its day to day operations, enjoys public speaking 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.

To see his character-infused coaching in action, watch the trailer to the Oscar-winning documentary, Undefeated, at

Bill lives with his wife and four children in Memphis, Tennessee.

Follow Me

  • twitter icon
  • youtube icon


Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
George Lucas Educational Foundation
Edutopia is an initiative of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.