Williams seeks stability for Albert Lea athletics

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Ross Williams is well aware of what people have been saying and continue to say.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Ross Williams is well aware of what people have been saying and continue to say.

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The feeling seems to be that the Albert Lea High School Activities Director/Assistant Principal position needs some stability.

Williams hopes to provide it.

The 28-year-old Williams, a three-year employee of School District 241, last week became the latest in a long line of people to hold the job.

His successor, Joe Libby, remained here only one year. Libby followed Wade McKittrick and Brian Espe, who both remained in the position for two years. The list for the 1990s also includes Linda Plante and Dennis Baldus.

Williams is open to almost anything, but his aim is to not become just another name on that list.

&uot;One of the things people are really worrying about is the stability of the position,&uot; said Williams. &uot;My wife and I have a house here, we have a commitment to being here, we like it here. A lot of people think this is a stepping block on my way out. Yes, it is a stepping block, but not on the way out. If the opportunity arises to stay here, we’d very much like to do that.&uot;

As a teacher and coach, Williams said he’s learned the value of stability in leadership positions and he’s heard people talk about how a lack of it has hurt ALHS athletics.

&uot;We need to have somebody stick around a while,&uot; he said.

A graduate of Roseville Area High School, where he was a four-year member of the varsity swimming team, Williams went on to St. Olaf College in Northfield and taught for a year in Watertown, S.D. before he and his wife Mary spent a year teaching in Hawaii.

Williams and his wife, who teaches English at ALHS, have been in Albert Lea since the 1996-97 school year.

Williams was an assistant to Jon Schmitz for the boys’ swimming and diving team for two years, taking over the head coaching duties for the girls’ team the last two seasons.

Both Williams and his wife are currently working toward full administrative licensure through Winona State University.

While Williams received plenty of credit for coaching the ALHS girls’ swimming team the last two seasons, he said the biggest reason for success was his predecessor and successor, Schmitz.

&uot;The reason I would say I did such a good job was because of Jon,&uot; said Williams. &uot;He got it started.&uot;

Ending his coaching career was not an easy choice for Williams.

&uot;That was a real concern for me,&uot; he said. &uot;I really like working with the girls on the swim team. I’ll definitely miss that. But one of the first jobs I did as athletic director was to hire Jon. I know things will be in good hands.&uot;

Williams has some definite plans and goals for the ALHS athletic department.

First and foremost are participation and communication. He wants to see more of both.

&uot;Being a teacher, being a coach, I’d like to see if some things could be done to get more kids involved in activities,&uot; said Williams. &uot;If they’re competing in one sport or activity, maybe we can get them participating in another. I’d like to see them take advantage of their opportunities and get involved in the whole experience that high school is.&uot;

When it comes to making decisions, Williams feels input is the key.

&uot;I want to talk to teachers, talk to coaches and see what we can do together,&uot; he said. &uot;I like to think of myself as a team player. I don’t like to make decisions without first discussing them with the people it affects. If I can keep the lines of communication open with everyone involved, then I think we can really go somewhere together.&uot;

Williams said that may sound very idealistic but he feels goals are important in any aspect of life.

Among Williams’ other goals for ALHS athletics are sportsmanship among both players and fans and continuing Albert Lea’s reputation for outstanding academic achievement.

In addition to coaching, Williams said he will miss classroom teaching and did not rule out a return to it in the future.

&uot;I still really enjoy teaching,&uot; he said. &uot;So if for some reason there is a change – a restructuring of the administration and I end up low man on the totem pole – that’s O.K. The reason I got into teaching is because of kids, and if I ever back into teaching again it won’t bother me at all.&uot;