Life without Mike
‘Peering’ into the future for Manheim football
When the Manheim Central football team plays its final game in the 2014 season, it will mark the end of head coach Mike Williams’ legendary career.
A fixture on the Barons’ sideline for more than three decades, Williams’ accomplishments puts him in rarefied air, with 340 wins, the 2003 PIAA State Triple-A championship, 16 District Three titles and 20 Section crowns.
Beating Pine-Richland 39-38 in double OT in the snow at Hersheypark Stadium for State gold will no doubt go down as his most memorable victory, but there have been no shortage of highlights in his 33 years at the helm.
Among his coaching peers, there is certainly no shortage of respect for Williams and his incredible career. When contacted this week by the Record Express, many acknowledged that their first reaction to the reports about his impending retirement was one of surprise.
Warwick football coach Bob Locker said, “I said to some people earlier, nobody coaches forever, but it just seemed like he was a fixture in L-L League football. I had heard rumblings that it might be his last year, but still when it actually happens, it’s still kind of a surprise. I have great respect for Williams as a coach and all that he’s accomplished. He’s a tremendous high school football coach and what he did went past just football.”
Manheim Central boys basketball coach Chris Sherwood added, “I was surprised because when it’s in your blood, (and) it’s obviously in his blood, it’s tough. The team becomes your family and I know that’s how feels about his players and his coaches. But I guess all good things come to an end. He has great assistants there and I’m sure they’ll pick up right where he left off … He built that program. And I wasn’t born and raised in the town, but when I got there, I quickly realized understood what he was all about. He’s about intensity and teaching kids and caring about not only the program, but the community as a whole.”
Barons’ boys volleyball coach Craig Dietrich remarked, “My first reaction was just to think about what he’s done big picture wise for the community and for the school and hopefully there won’t be a void that’s left because he’s meant so much to the community through all the generations of kids that he’s coached. I think he realizes he’s leaving the program in good hands and they’re well set up and if not this year, when? Would it be five years from now, 10 years from now? Only he knows. But I can’t imagine. It’s hard to walk away from something you’ve built from literally the ground up. I mean, who’s been as successful as Mike? When you start talking about that, it’s George Curry and who else? That’s pretty lonely and elite company at the top there.”
Manheim Central boys’ soccer coach Rod Brenize, speaking about his reaction, said, “Disbelief, I guess. He’s been there for so long, it seems like he is as much a part of his school as anybody I know. I started teaching in 1990 … he’s the only football coach I’ve known for 24 years, so it’s going to be difficult to see somebody else, even an assistant coach, take his spot. Whoever comes in is going to have some very large shoes to fill, but I think we’ll be OK. The next person will come in and will inherit a program that coach Williams created and molded himself and I’m sure will carry it on to a continued level of excellence.”