July 19, 1923 - February 20, 1998

A Coaching Legend in His Own Time

As Told To Mike Allison ('63) by J.W. Williams

J.W.Williams J.W. Williams grew up in the small farming community of Bardwell, Texas. He attended Bardwell schools and graduated from the eleventh grade in 1939 at the age of 15.

J.W. was from a farming family and worked in the fields most of the time; however, he always managed to find time for his true passion in life - basketball.

In the late thirties there were virtually no gymnasiums in which to play basketball. Bardwell's court was outdoors and the playing surface was packed sand. They did have one modern convenience - lights. A piece of lumber was extended above each backboard and electrical wire and lights were strung between them. Interestingly, to keep warm when not playing, the players would huddle around fire barrels at each end of the court.

J.W. enrolled at Hillsboro Junior College in the fall of 1940 and then attended North Texas State in 1941. With the outbreak of World War II he joined the Army Air Corps. Assigned to the 8th Air Force and stationed in England, he was a flight engineer/gunner on a B24 bomber. While in the service, J.W. proudly played on two teams: the Salt Lake City Fliers, who actually defeated the Harlem Globetrotters, and the England based 8th Air Force, Bungay Buccaroos.

When the war ended, J.W. returned to Bardwell. He coached the team there for the grand sum of $96./month while attending North Texas. In 1948 he received his degree and moved to Waxahachie to start and coach a junior high basketball program. In 1952 J.W. became the head coach of Waxahachie High School and the rest is history. For the next sixteen years the mere mention of Waxahachie in a conversation about Texas basketball brought fear to any would-be opponent.

Among the first coaches in Texas to introduce the jump shot, J.W. was always on the leading edge of basketball coaching innovation. He utilized the full-court press on defense and used an action packed, fast-break offense to wear down the opponent. It was not uncommon for opposing teams to use stalling tactics the entire game to attempt to disrupt the running, high-scoring attack. It didn't work.

J.W. Williams' philosophy on coaching was to first teach and instill character and respect in his players. Winning games naturally followed. Above the door of the dressing room for his players to see was a large, white sign with these words:

When the one great scorer comes to write against your name,
he writes not that you won or lost,
but how you played the game.

Coach Williams' high school teams had a sixteen year record of 378-97. Fourteen of his teams achieved district champion or better. Of those fourteen teams, five reached the final-four state playoffs, three reached the finals, and one team won the state championship. Many of his players went on to have outstanding college basketball careers.

J.W. Williams, the coach, has been recognized for his many accomplishments.

He was inducted into the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
Texas Basketball Magazine Coaches Honor Page with a lifetime record of 515 - 105.
The Waxahachie High School gymnasium is named in his honor.
He received the "Balfour Award" for Merit from the Texas High School Coaches Association.
Inducted with the inaugural group into the Waxahachie High School Athletic Hall of Fame. (2012)

J.W. Williams, the man, will forever be remembered by those whose lives he touched as teacher, coach, and friend. Thank you for your guidance and all of the memories.

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Waxahachie High School Coaching Record
195323-5Regional Finals196124-6District Co-Champion
195425-5District Champion196229-3State Finals
195513-8196317-11District Co-Champion
195624-6State Semi-Finals196425-5District Co-Champion
195726-5District Champion196529-5State Finals
195829-3State Champion196626-6District Champion
195925-3District Champion196725-7State Semi-Finals
196010-15196828-4District Champion