On Wednesday, Jan. 8, an important milestone was reached by Kelly Williams, head coach of the College’s men’s basketball team. With a win at Rowan University, Coach Williams moved to 200 career coaching victories — an impressive accomplishment by any standard.
The funny thing is, the coach barely even saw it coming.
“To be honest, no,” Williams said when asked if he was thinking about the number. “My mom, she pretty much keeps track of all that stuff, and from time to time, she’d call me or make me realize I wasn’t that far, but for the most part, it wasn’t a part of the process. You take it game by game, and obviously we started off a little slow, so it even went further from my mind — you just want to get to winning the next game.”
A reminder of Williams’ career accomplishment came from his players in the form of a game ball signed by the entire team that now sits on a raised pedestal in Williams’s office.
“The players presented me with that ball in practice, I think it was the very next day — they’re very nice kids,” Williams said with a smile on his face.
Williams has another reminder of the milestone: He was presented with a plaque by President R. Barbara Gitenstein, Vice President of Student Affairs Amy Hecht and Vice President of Human Resources Gregory Pogue, just before a game a few weeks ago.
“I was so pleased to be able to join Vice Presidents Hecht and Pogue on (Monday, Feb. 10) to celebrate this milestone in coach Williams’s career,” Gitenstein said. “We are very proud of what he, the players and the other coaches have accomplished.”
With the team’s season now over — the team missed out narrowly on the playoffs, but looks like it has an upward trajectory — a bummed out but hopeful Williams sat back in his office, game ball close at hand, and talked about his experiences as a coach.
“I think sometimes as coaches, we are hard on ourselves,” Williams said. “We never give ourselves any type of credit. But to take a step back and to think about some of the success that I’ve had, it’s rewarding — and it also means that I’ve had an opportunity to influence other kids, or mentor kids in regard to being young men. So it’s a combination of thoughts when I see 200 career wins.”
For Williams, it’s not just about the win column.
“I’ve never been the type of person who’s only concerned about winning,” Williams said. “I want to make sure that we’re doing it the right way. Sometimes, when you take that approach, it takes a little longer, so you just have to be confident in who you are as a person and as a coach that things will turn out. Our guys got better this season, and that’s what I got out of it.”
Williams was also in the mood to reminisce.
“Probably the most memorable win was here (was) opening night my very first year,” Williams recalled. “Being able to win the very first game, at home, on a Saturday night, with the crowd — it was a packed house — that was probably the most memorable one. I keep the game story hanging in my office. That’s the most memorable time, it really felt like I was coming back home.”
Looking back, without being asked, Williams wanted to make sure he thanked those who helped him reach 200 wins here at the College.
“People who have played such an important role, and have been so supportive, would definitely be Lisa Angeloni, President Barbara Gitenstein and John Costanzo, who gave me the opportunity to coach — those are special people that really stand up, and I always appreciate all of their support,” Williams said. “Not to mention my other coaching colleagues. We take care of each other throughout the season. It’s a good environment. And, obviously, my family (has) to deal with me after the losses.”
With 200 wins and another season behind him, Coach Williams got back to work. After all, 300 wins will take some effort to reach — not that he’ll notice getting that one, either.