Ron Williams was not from Summerville… or anywhere in Chattooga County. But, through his love of sports and football, Summerville became home and the Williams’ family became part of the fabric that is Chattooga. Coach Williams paced the sideline at both Chattooga High School and Trion High School. “I pull for both schools still just the same. I’m loyal to the kids. I don’t think any County in the State has two better high schools,” said Williams.
From a very young age, Williams knew he hated to lose… at anything. And he liked to play… everything. “I played football (TE/DE), basketball (Point Guard), baseball (catcher) and tennis (Number 1 Singles) in high school.” Williams was always on a field or a court playing some form of ball.
After graduating Rockmart High School in 1968, Williams continued his education at West Georgia University, where he played baseball, “the only sport I played in college that I never coached,” chuckled Williams.
He moved to Chattooga County in 1978 as the new football head coach of the Chattooga Indians and athletic director at Chattooga High School. Ron was just 27 years old when he became the youngest head coach in Summerville’s history. Cathy Jo, his beautiful wife, was 22 and mother of their two pretty blond-headed girls, Brandy and Buffy Jo. The Williams came here as outsiders. Coach Williams recalls at the time not even knowing where Menlo & Lyerly were located. He requested two things when he moved to Chattooga County; to live close to the gym so he could be close to his family and cable TV.
He was paid what amounted to mere pennies when considering the number of hours he put in, which was often from daylight until dark. He put in his time because he loved what he did and he always wanted to be prepared. During the summer months he was always there to open the weight room up, cut grass, or whatever else had to be done.
It only seems fitting that his first victory as Chattooga’s head coach was against his alma mater, Rockmart, 7-6.
In spite of a rocky start at Chattooga, in 1980 Coach Williams led his Indians to a 9-1 record. Responsible for that incredible season was an outstanding offensive line and the sheer athleticism of one Steven McGill. McGill was a sophomore running back with an unusual combination of speed, size and power in 1978 when coach Williams came to Chattooga. He played three years for Coach Williams. McGill credits coach Williams with raising the level of physical and aggressive play and working tirelessly to promote his recruiting, “he was ‘the’ one who got my name and film out there. Coach was a huge part my success, I wasn’t the easiest kid to coach to say the least…. He never gave up on me, and is now one of my friends and I love him and his family dearly. This county and others needs more coaches and role models like him. The impact he had on me is still present today. He taught us to believe in each other. He taught us to give the game all we had, and he taught us to always respect the other team while we tryed to kill em,” said McGill.
Coach Williams shared one of his favorite victories, “Chattooga was AAA and when we beat Dalton who was ranked #1 in the state #3 in the nation, the team shaved my head and it’s still not grown back,” laughs Williams.
In 1984 Coach Williams became the defensive coordinator for the football team and boys head basketball coach at Trion High School.
What set Coach Williams apart, “He was tough, but he was always encouraging. Even if you screwed up, he always believed in you. He was real. He would tell you like it was. We went to a football camp in Carnesville, Georgia… that was torturous. Later, Coach told me that the he hated it as much as we did. It was surprising, but comforting to know that Coach knew that camp was tough on us and he didn’t mind sharing that it was tough on him, too,” said former player Stephen Smith. Smith played football for Coach Williams from 1985-1987 and basketball during the 1986 season.
In 1991 Chattooga wanted, and needed, Coach Williams back on the sideline. The program was experiencing a 6-year drought of losing seasons and morale was at an all-time low. Since Williams had left Chattooga there had been a revolving door of coaches with one coach leaving before he ever coached a single game. The Indians had experienced a 30 game losing streak and they needed a gridiron God… someone who could come in and make an impact from day one.
Coach Williams came back to the Little Big Horn and immediately the tides turned. Kyle Duke, who played for the Coach Williams during the 91 and 92 seasons commented, “although we were not a playoff team those two years I played for him, we were vastly improved and we competed. We won more games than we had in years and we were in every game. I specifically remember playing Villa Rica my Senior year when they were ranked #1 in the State. We took them to the wire and lost by one score but, before that year, we would have gotten blown out.”
Coach Ron Williams taught and coached for 30 years. Williams likes to think that he was an influence on at least one student a year, bringing him to the total of 30 people he helped mold. That number doesn’t come close to his true impact on the county.
“Outside of my Dad, I’d be hard pressed to find another man who has impacted my life more. Having played football, baseball and basketball growing up and then playing in college I’ve been blessed to play for a lot of great coaches. None of them had more of an impact on me than Coach Williams. I never had any doubt he believed in me. He was a role model for me as a leader, husband and father,” said Duke.
Coach Williams said the one thing that remained the same throughout his years coaching were the kids, “the kids never changed, they all wanted discipline and direction.” And a coach never quits coaching, Duke remembers back to the end of his Senior year when next year’s team had started spring practice, “I took on a coaching role. I was at practice every day working as a coach and I got to experience Coach Williams’ leadership as part of the coaching staff. I got to interact with Coach Williams on a different level more as a peer. Coach didn’t stop supporting me after I moved on to Maryville College. When I was home for the summer he always made sure I had access to the weight room and the fields to get my summer workouts in. Outside of my family, he probably attended more of my college games than anyone else.”
Coach Williams’ daughters grew up around the football field. Buffy Jo was two years old when when the Williams family made Chattooga home. “We always seemed to be at the school, football field, or some sporting event which was fun for me. At times it felt like I had more brothers than I could count,” she commented. “We still laugh because most Friday nights, I was given messages from the other coaches to go and relay to Daddy because they didn’t want to make him mad! We were extremely lucky to remain in the county the whole time that I was growing up with daddy coaching because most times that doesn’t happen with most coaching families. I still have MANY, MANY former football players that recognize me and tell me how much they liked Daddy. It’s especially nice because most of them tell me what a great teacher he was and that they enjoyed having him in class,” said Buffy Jo.
After nearly two decades prowling the sidelines of both blue and red, in 1996, Coach Ron Williams traded in his four quarters… for 18 holes.