Site last updated: Friday, February 23, 2024

Log In

Reset Password
Butler County's great daily newspaper

Coaching track becomes family affair for Williams

Longtime Butler mentor entering high school Hall of Fame

This is the first in a series of articles profiling the 2023 inductees into the Butler Area School District Athletic Hall of Fame

BUTLER TWP — Family got John Williams started in track and field. Family has also helped him continue in the sport.

Now the sport has landed Williams — who has 33 years in as a Butler varsity track and field coach — in the Butler Area School District Athletic Hall of Fame. He has been the head girls track and field coach for the past 11 years and was an assistant on the staff for 22 years before that.

Williams will join Butler basketball great Kim Nowakowski Tarovisky and standout swimmer Pete Staruch for an induction ceremony at 6 p.m. Dec. 22 in the high school cafeteria. The trio will also be recognized at halftime of the Golden Tornado’s boys basketball game vs. Slippery Rock that night.

“It’s just nice to be recognized,” Williams, 62, said. “We put a lot of hours into this sport. We like to grow and build and mold kids. We take a lot of pride in it.

“It’s just flattering to be honored like this.”

Williams specializes in coaching the long jump and triple jump. He’s coached 105 WPIAL qualifiers in the jumps, including 50 WPIAL medalists. He’s coached 45 PIAA qualifiers in the jumps, including 18 PIAA medalists.

In indoor track and field, Williams has coached 12 state qualifiers and three indoor medalists.

He was part of 14 WPIAL team championships as an assistant coach at Butler. His record as girls head coach is 84-11, including four WPIAL team titles.

Williams attended Mohawk High School. He and his brothers competed in track and field there.

“Ron Lape coached track at Mohawk for more than 30 years. He was a legend in coaching,” Williams said. “I learned a lot from him.

“My older brother Dick won the WPIAL championship in the triple jump his senior year. I was coming up behind him and not only wanted to win the WPIAL title in that event, but wanted to beat his distance.

“I won the triple jump title and beat my brother’s distance by three inches. The triple jump has always been my favorite event,” Williams added.

Williams went on compete in track and field at Indiana (Pa.) University. He earned his degree in business administration, but left the track program during his sophomore season.

“When I was in high school, I was 6-foot-2, 155 pounds,” he said. “I got to college, you get into the weight program, and I was at 180 pounds. I became stronger, but I lost my quickness on the runway ... It was just time for me to move on.”

Now an insurance broker, Williams and fellow Golden Tornado track and field coach Mike Seybert wound up working out of the same office. They talked about volunteering their services to the Butler track and field coaching staff.

“That’s how it got started for us,” Williams recalled. “We talked to (then Butler coach) Mark Farabee and he took us both on. Mike helped out with the runners, I helped out with the jumpers.”

Williams was an assistant coach when Butler finished runner-up at the PIAA Track and Field Championships. He dropped out of coaching for a few years after that season.

He and wife Kathy had three children at elementary school age during that time.

“I had to help take care of our own kids at that point,” Williams said.

All three of the Williams children got into track and field. Kiersten, a daughter, compete in junior high. Daughter Hannah and son Jackson competed through high school. Hannah did the triple jump, Jackson the shot put and discus.

Hannah and Jackson both work out of Williams’ insurance office now. They are also assistant coaches with Golden Tornado track and field.

“It’s cool the way that all worked out,” Williams said. “We needed coaches and they were there. But the true Hall of Famer in our family is my wife Kathy. She’s always volunteered, doing things with the booster club, concessions, all of that stuff.

“She’s been right there with me.”

More in Sports

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

* indicates required