Williams’ 34th season will be his last

By on July 9, 2014
Leading the Barons to their 500th win in program history ranks as one of the many highlights from Mike Williams’ coaching career. (Lititz Record File Photo)

Leading the Barons to their 500th win in program history ranks as one of the many highlights from Mike Williams’ coaching career. (Lititz Record File Photo)

As good as Mike Williams is as a football coach, he is a terrible liar.

So when a local sports reporter called the Barons’ long-time head coach on Tuesday, he was simply unable to keep his plans quiet any longer.

Following the 2014 campaign &tstr; his 34th year in a legendary head coaching career at Manheim Central &tstr; Williams will step aside.

“I didn’t really want to put it out (Tuesday), but (Lancaster Newspapers’) Mike Gross called me and I could have said, ‘No comment on it,’ but I’m just not the kind of guy that can not tell the truth,” Williams said. “So I guess my own big mouth got me into this today, but it’s over in a sense. It will be today’s news and by next week, it will be gone and we’ll be (talking) just about football and the kids and stuff like that.”

What people will be talking about from Williams’ career is a long list of impressive numbers, including 340 total wins and counting, 20 Section crowns, 16 District Three Triple-A championships and the PIAA State title in 2003. From 1992 to 2001, the Barons won 10 straight District golds.

No small wonder that after the news leaked on Tuesday, Williams’ inbox had 40 emails waiting for him. Or that when he took his grandson to baseball practice, Williams was already being asked by somebody about the reports.

“Now it’s kinda like reality has set in so I’m kinda sad about the whole thing,” Williams said. “You can’t be the head coach for 33 years and not feel that this is a change in your life … To be honest with you, I’m not saying this is something I really want to do necessarily, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”

If Williams still had the daily contact that he once had with the student-athletes seeing them in the halls, the cafeteria and the classroom, it would be different. But since retiring from teaching within the past decade, he doesn’t.

“That really bothered me,” Williams admitted, “not having the impact on the kids that I think a high school coach should. I was always a front lines guy. I want to be there feeling the pulse of the school and I’m just not at that point right now.”

He informed Manheim Central’s administration of his plans “a couple of months ago.”

“I told them, ‘I want to tell you now that I’m going to do it so I don’t back out,’” recalled Williams, who will celebrate his 69th birthday at the end of July. “But I’ve been telling people when they ask.”

Not being in the school every day was the main factor in his decision. Williams also is cognizant of the fact that a couple of his assistants might be interested in the position. And he feels an obligation to his wife, Linda. The couple own a second home in Florida and spend time there as well.

“There comes a time in your life,” Williams said, “when you’ve just got to think that you can’t worry totally about yourself.”

He acknowledged that he thought about it a little bit last year, but following a 13-0 start to the Barons’ season, things ended suddenly with a loss to Bishop McDevitt in the District Three championship game and he didn’t have an exit plan.

This year, his thoughts about retirement got a little stronger and the wheels were put in motion.

But just because Williams is hanging up the whistle doesn’t mean that he’s going to have a lot of free time. In fact, he is hopeful to remain on the Barons’ staff as an assistant under whomever gets the job.

“Manheim is my town and I’d like to just stay with it,” Williams said. “I’m a type-A personality who doesn’t need free time. I fully expect to get involved in something related to football somewhere, some place, at Manheim maybe. I’m not a guy who gets up in the morning, reads the newspaper and wants to go golfing every day. I’m going to be a do-er of some sort. So free time, what the heck is that?”

If Williams’ successor came from within the staff, long-time Baron assistants John Brubaker and Dave Hahn, who both teach in the high school, are certainly candidates.

Asked if he will have input in the search, Williams said, “I’m not sure. I would like to, but I don’t know that I will. That’s up to the administration. I’ve got two coaches on my staff that could be the next head coach, but it’s up to them to make that decision. We can’t just assume that they’ll get it, but I’m hoping that they will. And if they want to be part of the interviews or ask me my opinion, I’ll give it.”

In the meantime, Williams is hoping that the news of his retirement fades quickly and that the focus returns to the Barons’ 2014 campaign.

“It’s a sad day for me right now, it really is,” he said. “But I’m hoping that in a couple weeks, we’ll forget about this and give 100 percent to the season. It’s going to be a challenging season. So that’s what I want to focus on &tstr; having a great last year, having fun with the kids and just doing what we do in Manheim … try to be successful and upset a few people and that kind of stuff.”

Asked if might still change his mind, Williams said, “There’s always that chance, but I think I’m in too deep now. I think today did it. I’m done for now. It was my own fault if I’m cooked. I’m too honest, I guess.”

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