By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Mike Williams reached a point in his career in education that it was time to step back from several roles at Graham High School.
But he kept the softball coaching duties after othewise “retiring” in June 2020. That’s something dear to his heart, so athletics director Kyle Ward didn’t need to find a coaching replacement.
“I told him I’d continue to coach softball,” Williams said. “So I love it, no doubt.”
Williams is a former boys’ basketball coach and athletics director at Graham.
There’s family involvement in coaching the Red Devils on the softball field. Ken Williams, the coach’s father, has been an assistant coach for the program for about 30 years. The coach’s daughter Brittany Williams is also an assistant coach.
“That’s a good thing,” Coach Mike Williams said, noting that others have held assistant-coaching roles on his staffs as well. “My daughters came through and played for me.”
Williams, a 1979 Southern Alamance graduate before earning a degree from then-Elon College, hasn’t veered far from softball fields.
“I played baseball and, after high school, I played slowpitch (softball),” he said.
Williams was a Southern Alamance assistant coach under Tommy Spoon when the Patriots won 1981 and 1984 slowpitch state championships.
After that, he spent a year as softball coach at Graham Middle School before moving to the high school. That coaching stint began with the spring 1986 season and he has guided the Red Devils ever since.
Yet there have been adjustments to make along the way. Williams said Graham was the first school in Alamance County to delve into fastpitch softball when the North Carolina High School Athletic Association began making changes in the mid-1990s, playing a fall season before the state’s full transition.
Without teaching class or handling AD duties, Williams, 61, is free to concentrate on the role of softball coach when he steps on campus. There’s more time to set up for practice, and the freedom to put in extended efforts on the field’s maintenance.
“I’m OK with it,” he said.
The Red Devils opened this season with an 8-0 road loss to River Mill.
The victories in recent seasons haven’t come at quite the same rate as during earlier stretches for Graham. Williams said it’s still an enticing challenge to try to help piece things together for the Red Devils.
For Williams, softball coaching extends beyond the high school season. He has been involved as a coach in the State Games of North Carolina for more than a decade.