Gary Williams - A tribute to a great Terrapin
By Rick Nelligan
On Thursday, September 30th, 2010, Maryland’s Men’s Basketball Coach Gary Williams will be inducted into the Sports Legends Museum Hall of Legends in Baltimore. Few are more deserving. Coach Williams has been the face of an elite Maryland athletic program for more than two decades and resembles everything it means to be a Terrapin.
I could sit here and throw all of these stats at you to portray how good Coach Williams is. I could tell you that he brought the Maryland basketball program back from the brink of disaster after NCAA sanctions and the death of superstar Len Bias (R.I.P.). I could tell you that he is the fifth winningest active head coach in college basketball and third winningest head coach in ACC history. I could tell you about the 28 student-athletes he has helped achieve their dreams of playing in the NBA. I could tell you about how he’s led the Terrapins to fourteen NCAA Tournament appearances, including an astounding eleven straight. I could tell you about the seven Sweet 16’s, two Elite 8’s, two Final Four’s, and that OOOOH so sweet NCAA National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2002. But I won’t…
Coach Williams means so much more to the University of Maryland, to the Terrapin fans, and to me than any of those stats (except possibly that National Championship.) Coach Williams is the ultimate Terrapin. He is loyal, hard working, passionate, sincere, a leader, a mentor, and the ultimate competitor. He is the vaunted flex offense that every Terrapin knows by heart. He is that stifling press defense that makes even fans at home jump up and down as if they were in the student section. Coach Williams is that pre-game fist pump to the student section before every home game that electrifies the Terrapin faithful and sends shivers down the spine of every opponent that dares enter our house. He is the sweat soaked dress coat at the end of every game.
Coaches mean more than just their wins and losses, especially at the collegiate level. They are father-figures and leaders of young men, helping to direct them not just on the court but in life. They are ambassadors for their universities and communities. Coach Williams truly cares about his alma mater and his players. In the book Sweet Redemption, Juan Dixon recalls Coach Williams as a father-figure. I’m sure we all remember the special relationship that Coach Williams and Greivis Vasquez had over the past four years. Those are just two special cases out of the hundreds of young men he has helped mold into successful adults. He truly cares about his players as people as well as student-athletes. He is involved in many charities, such as the NABC’s Coaches vs. Cancer and works with fellow Maryland alum Boomer Esiason in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 2004 Williams pledged half a million dollars towards scholarships for the University of Maryland. As a young, aspiring coach myself, Coach Williams is exactly what I model myself after and hope to become as a coach and mentor.
There have been highs and lows, no doubt. Yet Coach Williams has persevered through it all to lead our Terrapins to become one of the most respected basketball programs in the nation. There is no one that is more deserving, and I am so proud to have Coach Williams as our coach. If you would like to attend and honor the Terps coach, you can purchase tickets through Ticketmaster. If you are unable to attend, make sure that on Thursday, you give a patented Gary Williams fist-pump for the greatest basketball coach the University of Maryland could ever ask for.
Box Seats blogger
| September 29, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: Rick Nelligan, Terps | Tags: Rick Nelligan, Terps
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