One of the most memorable girls basketball teams that 67-year-old Ron Williams coached at Northside Middle school was in his first year when the 1994 team finished undefeated.

So it was only fitting for a few of the players from that squad to show up to Williams’ retirement celebration after the last home game he’ll ever coach.

Former Columbus East players Lindsey Peetz, Erin Laur, Karen Force and Andrea Miller were members of Williams’ first group of players at Northside. They traveled from Evansville and Louisville to make sure to be there for his surprise retirement celebration.

Many of his former players showed up, and all of them can attest to the on- and off-the-court lessons Williams taught his players over the years.

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“As a coach, you want your players to come full circle,” said Force, who also coached for four years after playing at Cornell University. “You may yell at them. You may get on them for things and skills on the court that you think they need to improve on, but when they come back around as an adult and take those skills into their life, that’s you’re overall goal as a coach, and I think he’s done a great job with that over the last 24 years.”

Williams said that first group of girls is what got him hooked on coaching, and he followed those same seventh-graders to eighth grade to complete a second consecutive undefeated season. That sparked a 24-year coaching career that included five undefeated seasons and more than 500 coached games.

Williams has helped mold players like East’s Whitley Rankin and Columbus North’s Tessa Lomax into the players they are today. Williams is retiring after this season because he said it feels like it’s just time for him to go ahead an call it quits.

“I have been blessed, but it’s just time to let somebody come in, and I hope that’s my assistant,” he said. “This has been a pretty good year, and no better than to go out on a good year.”

Williams made sure to teach his players the game of basketball, but the first thing he always made sure to let them know is that family and academics always come before sports. He’s had fun teaching his players over the years, but said he will enjoy being able to watch games as a spectator now that he will be done with coaching.

“That’s one of the issues that I’ve had,” Williams said. “I’ve missed an awful lot of my grandkids’ activities because they’ve all participated, whether at school or outside activities, and I’ve missed a lot of them. I hope to be a lot more of a fan now than a participant.”

Saying goodbye

Name: Ron Williams

School where coached: Northside Middle School

Years: 1994-2018

Highlights: Five undefeated seasons

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.