NEWS, NOTES &
Friday, June 22, 2007
By Bethany Bradsher
'New' coach no stranger to ECU
By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.
The trouble with juggling is you have to focus
on the group of things rather than the individual items themselves. That’s
the lesson Kevin Williams learned during his first stint as an East Carolina
[Photo: ECU SID]
Now Williams has returned to the Pirate golf
scene, but with one major difference: His juggling days are behind him.
Williams was introduced – or
actually re-introduced – as the Pirates head golf coach. But this time, much
to his relief, he will coach only the women’s team.
Two years ago Williams, who came to ECU to lead
the men’s team in 1995, was the coach for both the men’s and women’s ECU
teams. He had agreed to the arrangement in 2000 when the women’s program
started, but as the years went on he couldn’t avoid the feeling that neither
team was getting the care it needed.
“When I was spending a lot of my time with the
women’s program, I could see the guys slipping a bit,” he said. “Then I
could see that I needed to be with the men’s team a little more, but then
the women’s team needed more attention.”
Overwhelmed with the multitasking, late in 2005
Williams was offered a job as the golf pro at Walnut Creek Country Club in
Goldsboro. Before he left he told athletic director Terry Holland that he
felt the golf teams would stagnate without two separate coaches. Holland
assured him that a plan to split the two jobs was already in the works.
Before long Kim Lewellen and Press McPhaul had
come to campus as the new coaches of the women’s and men’s teams,
respectively. Lewellen raised the profile of the team with appearances on
two different series of the “Big Break” television show and a Conference USA
championship for the women in 2006.
But the University of Virginia noticed
Lewellen’s success, too, and on May 3 ECU announced that the Cavaliers had
lured her away to become their head coach. Williams, who had been in
frequent contact with Lewellen and had helped her with some tournaments,
initially referred one of his former ECU players to be considered for the
job. So a phone call from the athletic department one day took him off
guard, he said.
“When they called me up, it kind of surprised
me,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for a job.”
Still, he had always wanted the chance to focus
on one squad, and he has missed some aspects of coaching – the competitive
environment, the focus on recruiting, the opportunity to teach. Add to that
the fact that he had personally recruited every 2007-’08 golfer except for
three new freshmen, and Williams discovered that he was anxious to return to
the Pirate Nation.
“I guess everything’s kind of come full circle,”
he said. “Really, the most enticing thing to me was coming back and coaching
Most of the golfers, who are home playing in
individual tournaments over the summer, won’t have the burden of getting
acquainted with a third new coach, because they already have a history with
Williams. But the team’s top player, rising junior Lene Krog, is
transferring to Virginia with Lewellen, and part of Williams’ recruiting
effort will be in finding a top-flight player to take her place, probably a
recruit who will come in midyear.
Krog’s departure certainly hurts, but Williams
is optimistic when he watches players like Emelie Lind, Ana Maria Puche and
Abby Bools, he said. He looks forward to building a team with the type of
determination and chemistry that doesn’t depend on just one player.
And when he needs some coaching advice or a
sounding board for golf theory, Williams can finally look further than the
mirror’s reflection. He can just walk to the next office and talk to men’s
head coach McPhaul.
“Before, the person I always bounced things off
of was (longtime ECU track coach) Bill Carson,” Williams said. “I told
Press, it’d be nice to talk to somebody who knows something about golf.”
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06/22/2007 02:10:45 AM