Bill Graham – SBMSA Football Legend
Coach Bill Graham began his love of sports and football while growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio. During his high school career, he played quarterback for the Purcell Cavaliers and was part of the Cavaliers ‘s 1949 state championship team, considered by many to be the best team in Ohio schoolboy history. In pursuit of a college football dream, Bill borrowed a friend’s car and drove up to Oxford, Ohio for a tryout with the legendary Notre Dame Coach, Ara Parseghian. At the time Coach Parsaghian was starting his career at the “the cradle of coaches”, Miami University.
In 1963, Bill brought his young family to Houston. While at Lewis & Coker in 1966, he saw a flyer announcing a youth football league and Bill signed up his oldest son, Murphy. The league was SBMSA and it was just a year after football was added to the program. For the next 21 seasons, from 1966 through 1987, Bill coached SBMSA football teams made up of boys from Bendwood Elementary and Memorial Junior High. His teams played in the Tully championship nine times, bringing home the championship trophy three of those years! To understand what a remarkable accomplishment this was, you need to know that during these years, SBMSA could have 24 to 32 teams in an age group and you had to win your district to even make the playoffs. Not only did Bill coach football, but he was also a baseball head coach for nine seasons. Bill says his baseball team did not do as well because he always drafted a good football team.
In those early days, Bill’s fiercest rival was fellow Legends honoree, Coach Ron Gammill. They had epic contest, and Bill recalls that, when or lose, Ron would often come by the house the next day and they would talk about the game period they shared a great respect for each other, both as football coaches and as men. Bill loved Ron Gammill. Both men are remembered, not just for their wins, but for the genuine affection and high expectations they had for all of their players, pushing them towards excellence and discovering the football player inside themselves.
Over 400 kids played on Bills teams. He remembers just about all of them and can recall details of so many games over those years. Those kids, now men (some grandfathers), will always be his players and hold a piece of his heart. Bill Graham’s legacy is the number of his players have become coaches, many of them playing important roles in SBMSA, and passing on his love of youth football to younger generations.