Coaches Corner-Steve Williams, USC Lancaster: Steve Williams has been a fixture at Doomsday Corner for years, now he is the chief Lancer at USC Lancaster. Anyone that has ever met this man can attest to his passion for the game and the players he works with. In his Q & A, that love for baseball and young people are apparent:
DP-How many years have you been in coaching? What got you into the business?
SW-Officially 34 years, but it started in the neighborhood in 1965, that is too many to count.
DP-What is the most rewarding thing about being a baseball coach?
SW-When a young man realizes what he has just done is something we had talked about, worked on, and shared getting to that point. That sparkle in just 1 eye is really "priceless".
DP-What does the term "coach" mean to you?
SW-It is a person who partners with student-athletes to try and maximize their personal, educational and athletic potential.
DP-What is something you wish everyone knew about your profession?
SW-The time involved and that monetary reward is not everything! It helps, but more often than not, it is not the best aspect of the profession.
DP-We all know there is very little money in coaching at the college level yet the time involved is mind-boggling, why did you do it?
SW-Why does the sun rise every day? If you can find your passion in life it’s hard to walk away from it!
DP-How do you balance the time demands of coaching and your family life?
SW-First, you have to have a wife that loves you no matter what! Jan enjoys sports to a point, but then she lets me go. The kids were always involved growing up because they were exposed. Matt coaches/ recruits at Spartanburg Methodist, Rob punted at Coastal, and Katy played softball at Spartanburg Methodist. They all understood about the time away, often they went with me.
DP-Why is the JUCO route a good option?
SW-JUCO allows a student-athlete to play more games in 2-year period, which means there is a chance to gain more experience due to more games played, and he is eligible for the "Draft" each year. It also allows him to grow socially and educationally.
DP-Take a few lines to sell USC Lancaster to a prep recruit:
SW-It is a new program therefore you have a chance to be a part of building a tradition. The student-athlete has smaller classes at a very reasonable price. Once they acquire their Associate’s Degree classes transfer easily. The student-athlete will have a chance to compete against some of the best JUCO talent in the country!
DP-You have coached at the HS level, in the Cape Cod League, AAU baseball and now at a JUCO. How are the different levels the same and how are they different?
SW-All the levels have the throwing, hitting, and fielding. The basic baseball fundamentals needed to participate. The speed of the game changes at each level, as you progress the intensity, focus, and passion must continue to grow. There are many components involved in getting to "Pro" baseball. This is the dream of each participant at each level, not many guys dream about being doctors, lawyers, or teacher/coaches.
DP-One of your sons coaches at a competing Region X program. Describe what its like to see your kid turn into a college baseball coach and how competitive are your conversations when wearing different uniforms?
SW-I’m proud of him, but it is fun to compete against him. As a parent you don’t think they are paying attention when they are young and they surprise you. He has had a chance to be around lots of good baseball people, so a lot of the time our conversations are about baseball. I tell him I helped him get where he is, now he has to go back and help me get where he is. Life is a circle!!
DP-Two years ago you and your mother became ill at the same time and you lost her. What was that experience like and how has that changed your life?
SW-What a test of Faith! She had the beginnings of Alzheimers and had been ill off and on since we lost my Dad. She missed him and my brother (Mike) terribly, she just went to be with them again. I’m who I am because of them. I trust God, He is a great guy!!
The days are always good, sun is always bright. I’m more thankful for Jan, Matt, Rob, and Katy. I’ve realized my time is short and obviously God has something I still have to do! I’m having a ball (no pun intended) right now in my life, Thanks to God!
DP-Your wife is currently fighting cancer. How is she doing and what has her battle been like?
SW-Wow, what a strong lady. First to put up with a very passionate baseball coach and to have raised 3 kids. She always let me coach until they were able to tag along. She has had surgery, chemo and radiation, all in the last 6 months. She is doing fine, everything looks good. She is tired still, but it does not slow her much. She has just made about 100 tree ornaments to sell at a Relay for Life event. Wow!
DP-When you hear the expression "old school baseball", what does that phrase mean to you?
SW-It means you play the game with passion, integrity, hustle, intensity, and camaraderie.
DP-What is the definition of a "student-athlete"?
SW-Here is where the high school players have to learn time management that first year. You have to excel in the classroom, so you can compete on the field. They have to be conscious enough to work hard in both areas.
DP-What is your most memorable experience as a baseball coach?
SW-There have been too many to write about. I would like to think the most memorable experience has not yet happened!
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball coach and why?
SW-My parents, they allowed me the opportunity to play. They nurtured that aspect of my life growing up. John Daurity has also played a big part, Thanks Coach!
DP-Who are the best three players you have coached against?
SW-Pokey Reese, Jacob Shumate, Chase Utley and Carlos Pena
DP-What does it mean to be a good teammate and is that important?
SW-A good teammate is one who puts the team first. Personal goals are second in matter pertaining to the team. This helps build team chemistry.
DP-Do you have any superstitions? If so, what?
DP-What do you see as the biggest difference in high school-aged players today versus when you played?
SW-Opportunities, players today have more chances to be seen, get better instruction, and play more.
DP-Now switching gears, think back to your days as a baseball player, please list any notable accolades:
SW-In high school I got the "Charlie Hustle" award and at Coastal Carolina I was elected as a Captain.
DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?
SW-The greatest thrill as player would have to be getting my first hit as a Sophomore at Hartsville. As a coach the greatest thrill would be being part of Lancaster High’s first State Championship.
DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?
SW-Playing college baseball and coaching in the prestigious Cape Cod league.
DP-Who were the three best players you played against?
SW-Jimmy Conrad, Billy Cranford, and the Cox brothers
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why?
SW-My Father, Raymond, he showed how to be a good person. John Daurity because he continued to do what my Dad started!
DP-What MLB feat in history do you wish you’d been inside the stadium to witness and why?
SW-Cal Ripken’s streak, to watch a classy guy handle an emotional situation.
DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?
DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why?
SW-Greg Maddux because of the control he had and savvy on the mound.
Pete Rose because he played HARD.
DP-Who is your favorite MLB team?
SW-All of them.
DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball?
SW-I am too old and crooked-eyed to play.
DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?
DP-What are some of your hobbies?
SW-Baseball, baseball, baseball!
DP-What is your favorite movie?
SW-Mrs. Doubtfire and Sleepless in Seattle
DP-Who is your favorite actor? Actress?
SW-Tom Hanks, Barbara Streisand
DP-What is your favorite meal?
SW-T-bone steak and baked potato
DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?
SW-My Mom, My Dad and Jesus. The first two I miss and we need to catch up! Jesus to help me continue to grow as a Christian.
DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years?
SW-Sitting at a Diamond Prospects event trying to recruit!
DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice.
SW-Before you enter college, learn about time management and its importance. Play every game like it is your last one, because it could be. We all reach this point, that’s why there are so many coaches! Always have a backup plan.
DP-You are always so classy and interesting, thanks so much for your time Coach. Good luck in 2010!