Legendary high school football coach Nathaniel “Traz” Powell was one of the great African American sports pioneers in Miami’s history. Born and raised in Miami’s Overtown section, Powell was a standout athlete at Booker T. Washington High School in the early 1940s. He went on to attend Florida A&M and was a 2-time Black College All American end. On December 6, 1947, Powell along with his Florida A&M teammates made history when they became the first black athletes to play in the Orange Bowl Stadium as part of the 1947 Orange Blossom Classic against Hampton Institute of Virginia. Powell scored the game’s only touchdown making him the first African American to score at the Orange Bowl.
Following a brilliant college career, he returned home to Miami in 1948 and became the head coach at George Washington Carver High School in Coconut Grove. From 1948 to 1965, Powell led the Carver Hornets to 5 undefeated state championships. In 1966, Carver was downsized into a middle school as part the integration of the Miami-Dade County public school system. He then moved on to Mays High School in Goulds, where he won another state title in 1966. In 1968, Powell once again made history in the Orange Bowl when he led tiny Mays High to a 14-7 upset over traditional power Miami High. It was the first time the Stingarees had played an all-Black high school.
By 1969, Mays was also downsized into a middle school and Powell’s coaching career was over. In 21 years as a high school football coach, he compiled a 167-37-3 record and never had a losing season He later went on to coach track at Miami-Dade Community College North Campus and taught physical education. In 1980 Powell died from a heart attack. But he left a huge legacy. The football stadium at Miami-Dade College is named after him and is the home field to several of Miami’s best high school football teams.