FORMER PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER
UT Knoxville, ’82
When people think of Willie Gault, they think speed— speed in the Olympics, speed in the NFL, speed for the Vols. But when Willie Gault thinks about Willie Gault, he thinks friendships, family and the influence they have had on him.
“My parents were amazing people,” says Gault. “They taught me to have a strong work ethic. They said you’ve got to fight for what you want and not give up.”
The “Super Bowl Shuffle” Chicago Bears set a world record in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash for men 55 and older in 2016, when Gault was declared “the world’s fastest 55 year old.” He begins every day at 7 and works out all morning.
“I am fortunate to have many good friends in my life,” Gault says. “My kids bring me joy just being a part of their lives. And guys like Lee Jenkins, my roommate at Tennessee, and the late Reggie White, guys I used to practice with are so valuable.”
Despite his accomplishments as an Olympic athlete, record-setting sprinter, Super Bowl champ, actor and even ballet dancer, Gault’s focus is on people.
“I really like people. My high school coach Johnny Goodrum told me, ‘Just remember, Willie, that people are people. They’re trying to do their best.’ That always stuck with me. No matter what our skin color is, no matter what we have, we’re all just people who want to be happy and healthy and take care of our families. That puts everything in perspective for me.”
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus‘ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.