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Bill Courtney is an American football coach, and the CEO of Classic American Hardwoods, a lumber company headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.[2] He is the subject of the 2011 Academy Award-winning documentary, Undefeated,[3] which chronicles his career as a high school football coach in the economically pressured[4] area of Shelby County, Tennessee.[5]

William Bankhead Courtney Jr.
Born (1968-08-24) August 24, 1968 (age 50)
Memphis, TN, United States
OccupationEntrepreneur, football coach, motivational speaker
EducationBachelor of Arts
Alma materUniversity of Mississippi
Notable worksAgainst The Grain[1]
SpouseLisa (née Matthews) (1992–present)
ChildrenMaggie (born 1995)
Molly (born 1996)
Will (born 1997)
Max (born 1998)


Early lifeEdit

Courtney was born in Memphis, Tennessee on August 24, 1968 to William Bankhead Courtney Sr. and Linda Shubert Courtney. He grew up in a single-parent household, being raised by his mother.

He enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1986 on a 4-year academic excellence scholarship. While in school he joined the Sigma Nu fraternity, and served as Lieutenant Commander. During his tenure, he helped found the Charity Bowl in 1989.[1] He was also a member of two academic honorary organizations – Psi Chi for Psychology and Sigma Tau Delta for English. Bill also began writing in school, and was a feature writer for The Daily Mississippian. He later became a weekly columnist. As a student, he played with the Ole Miss soccer club for two years. At Ole Miss, Bill received the first annual Chi Omega Service Award for Outstanding Community Involvement. Bill graduated from The University of Mississippi in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.


Courtney has a long history in the entrepreneurial community. He is the founder and CEO of Classic American Hardwoods since 2001.[1] His company has manufacturing and domestic sales offices in Memphis with international sales offices in Shanghai, China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.[6]

He started his company after working with JT Shannon Lumber Company in Horn Lake, Mississippi from 1996–2001 as Vice President.[5] He also worked in automobile sales in Memphis, TN from 1994-1996.

He was the head football coach at Tipton Rosemark Academy in Rosemark, Tennessee from 1991–1994. Through the years, he has volunteered as a football coach for several other teams.[2]


Undefeated is a documentary about a high school football team in Memphis, Tennessee.[4] Filmmakers documented the lives of Bill Courtney and the Manassas Tigers.[5][7] On February 26, 2012, the movie won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[2]


Courtney’s first book, Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love, was released by Weinstein Books on May 13, 2014.[1][6] Against The Grain teaches the importance of strong character, grace, and other lessons using 14 principle tenets throughout the book. Former NBA Coach and president of the New York Knicks, Phil Jackson, wrote the foreword.[8] Yahoo Sports said that Against The Grain was “a smooth read, fit for a range of readers from high school students needing a kick in the pants to executives needing a bit of direction and focus in their lives.”[9] During publication week, Courtney appeared on several well-known national American morning shows[10] and nationwide radio shows.[11] Bill Courtney and Against The Grain received an outpouring of support from industry leaders including, Jeanie Buss, John Feinstein, and Sean Combs.

During publication week, Courtney was a part of a live webcast with Seattle Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll for a discussion moderated by Yogi Roth. This live webcast was the first on-air interview with Pete Carroll since their 2014 Super Bowl win. During the webcast, Roth moderated a discussion with Carroll and Courtney on leadership and success. Courtney’s book was discussed throughout the event.[12]

Promotion of Against The Grain was scheduled to continue through summer 2014 at various book signings throughout the United States.[13]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Courtney has been recognized by several of his peers because of his work with Classic American Hardwoods. In 2007, he received the Memphis Small Business of the Year from The Memphis Business Journal.[14] He also received the Carnival Memphis King’s award for outstanding achievements in business and industry in 2012.[15] In 2013, he was inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs.

His work as a community leader has also been recognized on large platforms. He was inducted into the Bridge Builders for leadership in diversity, community, and justice in 2011. In 2012, he was honored with the Liberty Bowl’s Harry Zinn Spirit of 1776 Award for Distinguished Citizenship. In 2012, he received the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame – Memphis Chapter’s award for the Distinguished American for Contribution to Amateur Athletics.

Courtney was the subject of the documentary, Undefeated, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in 2011.[5][7]

Personal lifeEdit

Courtney is the cofounder of Man Rise, an organization that gives financial support to help five city schools with their football programs. He is the former board member of Orphanos Foundation, and also supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Bill met Lisa Matthews in 1991. They were introduced by her Aunt, Susan Heider, a fellow employee at the time of Rosemark Academy. They married in 1992.[5] They have four children – Maggie, Molly, Will, and Max. Courtney and his family reside in Memphis, Tennessee.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Still "Undefeated"?-Part Three Archived April 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine at My Fox Memphis; by Valerie Calhoun; published November 07, 2013; retrieved March 7, 2014
  2. ^ a b c Bill Courtney Interview: Former Manassas Tigers Football Coach On 'Undefeated,' Winning Players at The Huffington Sports; by Chris Greenberg; published August 29, 2012; retrieved March 7, 2014
  3. ^ 'Undefeated' Coach Bill Courtney: 'Life Goes On' at The Christian Post; by Emma Koonse; published March 1, 2012; retrieved March 7, 2014
  4. ^ a b Bill Courtney, Coach of the Year at Esquire Magazine; by Matt Sullivan; published February 15, 2012; retrieved March 7, 2014
  5. ^ a b c d e Bill Courtney Offers Leadership Lessons on the Field and in Business at The New York Times; by Bryan Burkhart; published April 30, 2013; retrieved March 7, 2014
  6. ^ a b Q&A: Coach Bill Courtney from "Undefeated" at Pioneer Local a Chicago Sun-Times Publication; by George M. Wilcox; published March 6, 2013; retrieved March 7, 2014
  7. ^ a b The Men Behind Undefeated: “The Chicago Cubs Ain’t Got Nothing on the Manassas Tigers!” at Vanity Fair; by John Lopez; published February 21, 2012; retrieved March 7, 2014
  8. ^ Bill Courtney, 'Undefeated' Coach and 'Against the Grain' Author, Says Christ and Gandhi Modeled Leadership Best at The Christian Post; by NICOLA MENZIE; published May 20, 2014; retrieved May 29, 2014
  9. ^ Book review: 'Against the Grain,' high school coach Bill Courtney on life, values at Yahoo Sports; by Jay Busbee; published May 14, 2014; retrieved May 29, 2014
  10. ^ 'AGAINST THE GRAIN' BY BILL COURTNEY at Fox News; published May 13, 2014; retrieved May 29, 2014
  11. ^ Interview with Coach Bill Courtney at The Road Tripp; published May 22, 2014; retrieved May 29, 2014
  12. ^ Roth to moderate ‘Success on the Gridiron & in the game of Life’ with Pete Carroll & Bill Courtney at; by Yogi Roth; published May 5, 2014; retrieved May 29, 2014
  13. ^ Bill Courtney Booksigning at The Memphis Flyer; by LEONARD GILL; published May 29, 2014; retrieved May 29, 2014
  14. ^ Classic American Hardwoods' different approach wins Small Business Award at the Memphis Business Journal (archived at; by Jane Donohoe; published May 17, 2007; retrieved March 7, 2014
  15. ^ Luncheon To Honor’s City’s Cinematic Stars at Memphis Daily News; by Aisling Maki; published May 8, 2012; retrieved March 7, 2014

External linksEdit