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William Henry "Bill" Wilson

Inducted 2001

In 29 years as head track & field coach at Vero Beach High School, William Henry Wilson, 62, led his teams to 19 consecutive district championships, seven regional championships and back-to-back state championships in 1989 and 1990. He also served as offensive backfield coach for the Indians’ 1981 state championship football team.

Wilson began his long coaching career in 1962 at Carter-Parramore High School in Quincy. In 1966, he moved to Gifford High School in Vero Beach where he coached until 1968 when the school was integrated with Vero Beach High School. A total of 44 student-athletes who played for him received athletic scholarships to college. He retired as an educator in 1997, but remains active as an assistant football coach and head girls track & field coach at Sebastian River High School.

The “Bill Wilson Relays,” hosted by Sebastian River High School, annually commemorates his accomplishments and contributions to track & field in the state of Florida.

Wilson's tenure in athletics has seen him garner many honors, including being a 14-time conference track & field coach of the year. After being named the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Outstanding Assistant Coach Award in 1993 and receiving the FACA Lifetime Membership Award, he was inducted into the FACA Hall of Fame in 1995.

Wilson was inducted into the Florida A&M University Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and the USA-Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1994. He received the Ida S. Baker Distinguished Black Educator Award in 1991 and the Book of Golden Deeds (Vero Beach Exchange Club) in 1992.

Wilson has also been involved in a number of community endeavors, including serving on the Board of Directors for the Indian River County Recreation Department.

Born in Tallahassee, Fla., Wilson graduated from Florida A&M University in 1961 and received his Master’s Degree in Physical Education from there in 1967. He played halfback on the Rattlers’ undefeated national championship team in 1961, where he started ahead of future Olympic 100-meter champion and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes. Wilson signed with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League, but a knee injury ended his career in his second season.

Bill and his wife, Kathryn, reside in Vero Beach.