Cross country, track and field coach Williams steps down
Longtime La Plata cross country, track and field coach steps down after 36 years
Richard Williams hadn’t even heard of Charles County-based La Plata High School when he traveled for an interview and ultimately took a teaching and coaching job there 36 years ago.
He took a chance on a new job opportunity and the county took a chance on him. Turned out it was the right move for the Chicago native.
“I remember I jumped into the car with my friend to ride down to Charles County [Board of Education] to fill out an application for employment,” said Williams, who had coached at Friendship Education Center in Washington, D.C. for 4 1/2 years before coming down to La Plata. “I had no idea where Charles County was or how far it was.”
Thirty-six years later after being a fixture as a cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field coach for the Warriors, Williams recently stepped down from his head coaching positions and retired as a teacher at the school.
While having a significant impact and reputation on the athletic programs, Williams also lauded for his time and dedication as a teacher for the school’s academic program over the years. But it was time to focus on another chapter of his life.
“I wanted to spend more time with my family and be in a better position to be there for them,” said Williams when asked what led to his decision of retirement. “I especially would like to watch my grandsons grow and develop into outstanding men. I just want to relax and basically do what I want for the first couple of months.”
Williams, who started coaching and teaching at La Plata in 1980, concluded his teaching career as a teacher of multimedia production, web design and development, Java programming and personal financial literacy. He also was certified in mathematics, computer science and social studies.
Williams guided the boys and girls cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field programs to a combined 13 South- ern Maryland Athletic Conference championships, 22 regional championships and one boys indoor state championship.
“Managing to coach all three seasons for 36 years was key,” said Williams referring to building a successful cross country and track and field programs. “Also, La Plata has been blessed with some dedicated, loyal and hardworking student-athletes. I also had a good support structure from the parents of those athletes. I don’t want to overlook the love and support that I received from my family.”
Williams was honored as SMAC Coach of the Year 17 times at the helm of the cross country and track and field teams. He even was La Plata’s junior varsity head girls basketball coach from 1980 to 1983 where his teams amassed a 44-game winning streak over 2 1/2 years.
“He’s the most supportive person and he will go above and beyond to help anyone with whatever they need,” said La
Plata graduate Lillian Reese, who will attend the University of Maryland for track and field in the fall. “Without him I would never have won my first state championship and I don’t think I would be going to Maryland. Whether it was out in the freezing cold or in the heat, he always wanted the best for us.”
La Plata’s throwing coach Michael Sturman spoke highly of Williams and was honored to coach with him.
“He coached three different sports and had a lot of winning teams,” Sturman said. “The kids loved him, he was a great role and supported other teams.”
During Williams’ time as a teacher he received numerous accolades and traveled internationally to Japan, Brazil, Ghana, Mexico and Guyana to teach other students.
Williams won the Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award and, in the mid-1980s, won the SMECO Outstanding Mathematics and Science Teachers award. He led La Plata’s Computer Bowl team to a first-place finish five times at the University of Maryland sponsored competition.
“I will miss the student-athletes,” Williams said. “Not just the student-athletes who excel at a high level, but the ones who were not as talented but gave their all. I am grateful for everyone’s effort. I taught them never to give up and never be intimidated by a number. It’s not how many athletes you have, it’s how many good ones you have.”
Thirty-six years later after being a fixture as a cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field coach for the Warriors, Richard Williams recently stepped down from his head coaching positions and retired as a teacher at the school.