Garland Williams

Garland Williams has served as Sherando’s head boys’ basketball coach for 23 years and the Warriors’ head boys’ tennis coach since 2019. Williams is a three-time Winchester Star Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year. The Warriors went 5-18 last season but Williams has a career record of 292-246. His one season as boys’ tennis coach produced a 9-9 record. Williams also was an assistant coach for track & field and football for the first four years of Sherando’s existence.

A 1982 James Wood graduate, Williams was inducted into the P. Wendell Dick Hall of Fame in 2003. Williams was a running back in football, a guard in basketball and sprinter and jumper in track. Williams played for James Wood’s last regular-season undefeated football team in 1980.

Williams received an associate’s degree from Hagerstown Junior College in 1984, a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in 1986, and master’s degree from WVU in 1987. At WVU, Williams competed on the track & field team. In 1986, he set a school record of 50 feet, 8 inches in the triple jump, which stood until 2003. Williams also set the indoor triple jump school record in 1985, which also stood until 2003.

Q. What are your favorite memories as an athlete?

Williams: The competition. And making friends. They might be your enemy at the time of competition, but lots of those people I competed against became lifetime friends. The camaraderie with team members on all the teams. The life lessons. Some things go your way, some things don’t. What you do to try and make them go your way, how you dealt with your defeats, and how you try to be grateful in your victories, those things are important.

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a coach?

Williams: I was a fitness major and got a degree in sports management as far as the master’s degree. I was in business recreation [working for Clarke County Parks and Recreation in 1988-89], and there was a time we had a Little League basketball and football coach who didn’t show up and I ended up coaching. I enjoyed it from that point on. I always loved sports and felt I’d be coaching somewhere.

Q. Who are your biggest coaching influences?

Williams: [Former Handley boys’ basketball] Coach [Tommy] Dixon. I did some summer league coaching for him for a couple of years in 1990 and ’91. Obviously the guy that gave me a shot to coach at Sherando, Coach Don Hambleton [Sherando’s boys’ basketball coach for its first four years]. Those two are big influences as far as coaching basketball. [Former James Wood coaches] Jerry Kelican, Rusty McDonald and Dave Weir influenced me for track & field. All of them had different coaching styles and helped me to develop my coaching philosophy.

Q. What’s the best coaching advice you’ve received?

Williams: People have passed on things they might have heard from different people, but the biggest thing I try to pass on to the players is you can’t get too high if you win and you shouldn’t get too low when you lose. You want to keep that middle ground there. Yeah, you want to be fired up and so forth, and excited when you get the win. I don’t know if this is called old-school or not, but just being graceful and humble about the win is important. When you lose, you need to see what you can do to improve so next time will be a successful outing for you.

Q. What have been your most difficult coaching moments?

Williams: I’d say situations where you have injuries or sickness that deplete your team, or worst case, one of your players has a family sickness or maybe even a death that season. Those are some tough things to really get through, especially for the family and the team. Young men, 15, 16 years old, that can really be hard. And sometimes there are situations where something’s not going well at home with a player, and they need a little help doing some things. In those times you have to lend a helping hand.

Q. What have been your favorite coaching moments?

Williams: When you have certain things you’d like to execute, and you see guys really work hard to do those things that you ask them to do. You see it all come together and work out on the court in a certain game, that’s just a pleasure to see. We set a goal and have a certain plan, and that plan worked out because everyone was on the same page and everybody bought into the system.

There have been some games where we’ve had some buzzer-beaters. One that stands out to this day is [in 2013] we had a big game against Millbrook. They were up by [one point]. We had an inbounds play to Tanner Ruths, and he [hit a deep 3-pointer] to win it. (Sherando won 69-67 after trailing by 15 early in the second half, scoring 32 points in the fourth quarter.) In [2002] we had a good run for a regional and played in JMU. (The Warriors went 23-2 that season, losing to Robert E. Lee 49-44 in the Region II semifinals.) In 2015 we had a good run [going 18-5].

Those moments stand out, but mainly it’s just having the chance to be at the school and be at the court, still doing this. I still love the game, still love all the preparation for it and the time you spend trying to help guys get better.

Compiled by Robert Niedzwiecki

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