Williams named All-Valley Girls Basketball Coach of the Year
LANETT — Lanett girls head basketball coach Charlie Williams has been known as a coach his entire life.
Growing up as the son of a Los Angeles Lakers fan, Williams would go to a court to direct the offense in pick up games the same way that Magic Johnson did for the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s.
While he was unsure if coaching was going to be his career path after college, Williams knew that he wanted to be around the game.
He was influenced by shadowing legendary coaches like Richard Carter, Thurmond Billingslea and John T. Woody, who he believes should all be in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame one day. Now, he’s the 2018-2019 All-Valley Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
“It’s an honor in itself,” Williams said. “I’m blessed to have 15 terrific young ladies that I coach.”
The Panthers didn’t have the best record in the area this season, which is a title that belongs to last season’s Valley girls basketball coach of the year Michael Bratcher, but one mindset that the team carried through the year was the “next man up” mentality. In January at home against rival LaFayette, Lanett senior guard Ambria Jackson tore her ACL. Since losing the team’s starting point guard, the Panthers finished the year with an 11-3 record, winning the area tournament and qualifying for the state playoffs.
Many players in the program were called upon to step up in Jackson’s absence, including five junior high girls who played significant minutes for Lanett coming down the stretch.
“I have to give credit to my junior high coaches,” Williams said. “Coach [Rekelia] Hickey, Coach [Earnest] Webb did a great job with those girls before the season even started. They worked on developing those young ladies.”
While Williams thanked his coaching staff of Krisse Story, Retae Zeigler and Webb, he also shared his appreciation for the outgoing senior class. After Lanett’s season ended in a postseason loss to Westminster, Williams gathered all five seniors together to share one last moment with them.
“I’m very demanding as a coach,” Williams said. “Those were the five who stuck it out. There were other girls who couldn’t do it. They were here for every workout when it was 100 degrees outside, they were running on the track. They’re not the most talented group. I’ve had more talented teams, but no one worked harder than them. This is the hardest working team I’ve ever been around. I love them because when the junior high girls came over here, they saw how intense the practices were.”
Williams and his hardworking team now enter a new mark in Lanett girls basketball next season, but he said that he has confidence in his program.