Jeffrey Williams named girls soccer coach at West Forsyth

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, June 22, 2023

By Jay Spivey 

It didn’t take West Forsyth long to find a girls soccer coach, and it’s a familiar name and face.

Just a little more than a week after longtime girls soccer coach Scott Bilton resigned, Athletic Director Mike Pennington of West Forsyth announced Thursday that Jeffrey Williams, who is the boys soccer coach at Forsyth, will also coach the girls.

“Scott and I are very close,” Williams said. “There had been all sorts of talks over the years about the possibilities of things that could happen, both from him and from my side, different things. But this was a possibility, and I was telling someone a few months ago that I was just looking for another challenge. I don’t know if that was in teaching, or in outside of teaching, or in sports, or whatever it may be.”

Williams, 36, actually replaced Bilton as the boys soccer coach in 2015, and has been the head coach for eight seasons. Since replacing Bilton, Williams is 110-52-19 as the boys soccer head coach. In those eight seasons, Williams has been a three-time conference champion in the Central Piedmont 4-A, and a three-time conference coach of the year.

“Jeffrey’s fulfilled different roles for us since he’s been at West, a math teacher to, he was the JV basketball coach for me, he was an assistant on the varsity for a couple years with (former Coach) Rusty (LaRue), he was the girls (soccer) assistant for a few years, he was an assistant on the girls when they won a state championship (2017), and obviously the boys,” Pennington said. “So, whatever Jeffrey Williams has done for West Forsyth, he’s done a great job.”

The cupboard isn’t bare for Titans’ girls soccer team. They finished 19-4-1 overall and 13-1 in the Central Piedmont 4-A conference this past spring.

“So, we think he’ll be a great for the girls, and it’ll be a pretty quick transition. They will continue to be off to the races.”

It’s also not the first time Williams has coached the girls soccer team at West Forsyth. From 2012-2020 Williams was an assistant on the girls team while Bilton was the head coach.

Williams resigned as the girls assistant coach in 2020 to spend more time with his family. He married his wife Sharon five years ago, and they have two daughters — Hannah Mae, who is 2, and Sophie, who is 5 months old.

“Now, I do have challenges at home now with a 2-year-old and a newborn,” Williams said. “That’s obviously changed my perspective and outlook on some things, as well.”

In addition to their crossing of coaching paths, and their friendship, they’re both fathers of girls. Williams has two daughters and Bilton has three daughters.

“Coaching girls is different,” Williams said. “It’s not much different than coaching guys, but it also prepared me to be a better girl dad.”

As Williams stated there were conversations between himself and Bilton about the possibility of his wanting to take the girls soccer job if Bilton were to resign. However, even though Pennington and Principal Kevin Spainhour had Williams at the top of the coaching wish list, they still had to interview other candidates.

“He and Scott are really good friends,” Bilton said. “And so, I think he knew about Scott’s resignation probably before we did. Coach’s wife is a special person, and he had talked with her. And I think the girls program is so good, Scott did such a good job, that it’s too good to pass up.

“He’s done a good job on the boys and the girls — you’re talking about a team that’s basically a state (NCHSAA Class 4-A) contender every year.”

And talk to his wife Williams did about the prospect of taking position of being the girls soccer coach.

“There were some discussions,” Williams said. “She said, her quote was, she said, ‘I knew when I married you that coaching was in your blood.’ And she says, ‘I don’t want you to not do something you should be doing.’”

In addition to his wife and Bilton Williams is quick to praise many of the people who have helped him along the way.

“So along with Bilton, and along with all the other coaches that played a major part, there’s been a lot of parents that’s played a major part in my career. But obviously my wife Sharon would be at or near the top of the list.”

One other positive about the transition to coaching both the boys and girls soccer teams, is that Williams is a math teacher at West Forsyth. He’s not just any math teacher there. He won Teacher of the Year in 2019.

“That’s not my compass,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s a negative thing, but it’s not what I go home and think about. It’s not what I strive to be doing to try to make others think I’m doing something well or to impress others.

“My roughest days are when I think I could’ve done something different as far as influencing a kid either from sports or school. It’s not necessarily about a test score or a win-loss, or whatever.”

And certainly not to minimize it, but Williams was also the assistant athletic director at West Forsyth in the spring of 2016.

“He knows the drill — with the physicals and the paperwork. And you probably heard the coaches complain that everything has to be on Dragonfly now,” Pennington said. “Well, he does a great job with that. He’s super-organized. So, Jeffrey makes my job easier in the fall and he’ll make my job easier in the spring.

“The transition will be seamless. It’s basically just take it and run. I don’t have to give him keys to anything because the soccer storage area the boys use will be the same one the girls use.”

Workout in all sports are going on now, so Williams will have to balance his schedule. The boys soccer team, which finished 10-10-4 overall and 9-5 last fall, start practice on July 31 and play its first game on Aug. 14 at Lake Norman.

“Everybody’s different. Everybody responds to things differently,” Wllliams said. “And sometimes, collectively, girls respond the same way and sometimes, collectively, guys respond the same way to certain things. But generally, they don’t. Like the stereotypes are sort of broken in that regard.”