Cross coun­try, track and field coach Wil­liams steps down

Long­time La Plata cross coun­try, track and field coach steps down af­ter 36 years

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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