St. Augustine High School’s entrance into the all-white sports association through a federal court ruling in 1967 was a part of the civil rights movement in New Orleans. Newly appointed Head Football Coach Otis Washington would face challenges that would require great determination and team unity.
Coach Washington’s professional commitment and appetite for learning led to the creation of an innovative offensive scheme. Difficult circumstances and community responsibility required Washington to teach life lessons along with football. Mental strength, physical toughness, sportsmanship and humility were hallmarks of his teaching.
Adversity came from many directions, including a lost coin toss for a playoff berth, discriminatory officiating, unfavorable rulings from the High School Association and a championship game defeat. The response was always to be resilient now and go on to achieve at the college level and in life.
The 1975 football team won a state championship that proved to be historic for St. Augustine High School, the City of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. The support of the community, prayer and the Marching 100 Band all helped propel the team to victory.
Coach Washington would now have to teach players how to handle success and tragedy. Once again the players would respond with new levels of achievement. The dedicated coaching staff supporting Washington was unique in its make-up and its ability to help him teach student-athletes to become men.
St. Aug won 87% of its games and three state championships under Coach Washington’s leadership. More importantly, the excellence displayed by the school, the coach and players led the social transformation of New Orleans and inspired African Americans in a manner similar to the great Jackie Robinson.