Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

April 19, 2014

Williams steps down as Lady Vikings coach

MOREHEAD — Jen Williams did not make this decision lightly.

She has spent the past two seasons guiding the Rowan County girls basketball program, which won 28 games in two seasons and has been in the 16th Region Tournament both years in that span.

But in the end, family won out as she decided to step down as the Lady Vikings coach on Wednesday.

“When I took the position two years ago, I was new to the community and it was a new challenge and a new chapter in my life,” Williams said. “It was a decision that has weighed on me and I talked to my family about. It feels like the right time and decision.”

Williams and her husband, Mike, the Morehead State softball coach, had a child, Adley Grace, on Feb. 7. After the season, Jen took some time and thought about her future and decided it is more important at this time in her life to be a parent.

“When you have two coaches in the same household, it’s very difficult,” Williams said. “There was a four or five-week overlap of where he’ll be out of town or I have games. You don’t want to leave your child with a babysitter all day. You want to spend time with them.”

Williams was 28-30 in two seasons as the coach of the Lady Vikings but did not predict she would leave the bench this early in her head coaching career.

“I had every intention of being the coach for a very long time,” Williams said. “It’s my whole identity and you almost feel like you’ve lost it when you’ve been called ‘coach’ your entire career.”

Williams will remain Rowan County’s athletic director, so she will select the new girls basketball coach. A search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

“It’s an important position,” Williams said. “Whoever the next coach is, I’ll be behind them 100 percent and support them. It’ll be their program and I’ll be their biggest fan.”

Williams added on the qualifications of the new coach: “You want someone who is willing to put in the time and energy to be out on the court with them ... and just someone who treats the kids right. You want someone to come in and run a first-class program.”

As for her decision to step away from coaching, at least for now, Williams is thrilled with the opportunity to spend more time with her family.

“It’ll be nice to have more of my summer and time and it’s hard to leave this group of kids,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of really good players that are just good people and students. Never had one issue. They represent the program so well. Telling them was awful.”

Williams feels like she has left the program in good hands. The Lady Vikings will return three starters next year, including Hannah Bandura, Sarah Purdy and Becca Duff.

“You always want to win more games as a coach,” Williams said. “You hope you leave an impression with the players. You hope they’re better people for playing for you. The special thing is, I’ll still be here. I get to see these kids continue in their playing career.”

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