By Doug Gorman
Don Williams' resume' speaks for itself.
The veteran wrestling coach has won a state title at Eagle's Landing and two at Stockbridge during a career than spans more than two
Throw in two second-place finishes, and Williams' career has success written all over it.
He has also made stops at Loganville and most recently at Lovejoy where he was co-head coach with Kevin Jones.
Now, Williams will have the opportunity to run his own program again after being named the head coach at Forest Park High School.
"I loved my time at Lovejoy," he said. "The kids were great and the parents very supportive."
This past season, Williams helped Lovejoy's Giovonte Ortiz win a 140-pound state title at the Class AAAA tournament.
Williams takes over for John Patterson, who is leaving Georgia for a job in Texas. Patterson also served as the athletic director at Forest Park.
Patterson knows he leaves the wrestling team in good hands.
"As the former head wrestling coach, one of my biggest concerns before I made my decision to move to Dallas is that the wrestling program, I worked hard to build for the past four years be placed in great hands," Patterson said. "Don is a friend, I admire his commitment, and dedication, so I know the future for Forest Park wresting is extremely bright. As athletic director, I think acquiring Coach Williams is a huge plus for the Forest Park athletics program. The athletes and other programs will benefit from his vast experience."
Despite all the accolades, Williams doesn't measure life's pleasures by the number of victories he has on the mat.
It's the way he influences people off the mat that's really important to him.
It starts with his job at the Ash Street Center where he teaches autistic and severally emotional behavior students kindergarten through the age 21.
Through it all, Williams' Christian-faith is deep rooted. That means more to him than the 10 individual state titles he helped his wrestlers win.
"All those are nice, and you can ask any coach this, as the years have progressed they are important, but they become less important. It's becomes more about the kids," he said. "God tells us, he is going to bless us as long as we are following his path. The championships are nice, but I have just been blessed by being around great kids and coaches."
Williams will have the opportunity to put his faith into practice by starting a Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Forest Park.
He understands the separation of church in state in the public school system, but he is proud of the impact he has had on the lives of young athletes through his involvement at FCA.
"I'm a numbers guy, and we counted over 200 kids came to Christ through FCA when we were at Stockbridge," he said. "We couldn't do it one on one in the classroom because of separation of church and state, because we had FCA as our umbrella, we were safe to do it."
Williams has had plenty of opportunities to take his coaching talents and faith to a Christian school community, but he's comfortable in this type of setting.
Atlanta FCA director Sid Callaway, one of Williams' best friends, has
told him he is at Forest Park for a reason.
"Sid told me I could go to a Christian School and it might be nice, but God has got you on the frontlines," Williams said. "He told me that he has been looking to find somebody to run FCA forever. "That's when I told him, everything happens for a reason, and there are no accidents."
One of the things Williams is most excited about is bringing Jonathan Pierce aboard as his assistant coach. Pierce wrestled for Williams at Stockbridge, winning an area title and placing at state.
Williams also returns to his gridiron roots. The former college football player at East Carolina will help coach the Panthers' defensive line this season.
Football was Williams' passion before he started coaching wrestling.
"I wrestled in high school, and I liked it, but I only did it to stay in shape for football," he said.
When he entered the teaching ranks, coaching football seemed more in his future than wresting.
"When I got my first wrestling job at Monroe-Area, I didn't know anything. I was just trying to remember things from my high school days and what I picked up at camps," he said.
Williams can't wait to hit the ground running.
"I am proud to be in Clayton County," he said. "I am one of those people that when somebody tells me I can't do something, it is just going to double my efforts. I have had people tell me, we can't have a successful wrestling program in Clayton County, that it's a football and a basketball county."