COLUMBIA — Scott Williams was dressed for work.
It was late Tuesday afternoon, and the Douglass basketball team’s assistant coach wore clothes that would normally fit his job description. The Bulldogs practiced in the Southwell Complex at Columbia College, and Williams sported khaki pants to go with his untucked, navy blue dress shirt and brown dress shoes.
Williams, however, was not on the sidelines holding a whistle and clipboard. Instead, the former Hickman football player was literally a man amongst boys, filling in as a defensive player as the team practiced one of their offensive plays. Senior Keondre Carthron was given the unenviable task of having to match up with Williams in the post. The two joked in between plays, sometimes Williams would give the 5-foot-11 forward a playful nudge with his forearm, causing Carthron to struggle for his balance as if an earthquake had just hit. As soon as the play resumed, Williams played like just another kid trying to crack the starting lineup. He quickly shuffled his feet and was ready to give help defense.
This was just another day on the job for Williams, who also works as a home-school communicator at Douglass. During nights after team practices, he works for Columbia Parks and Recreation and helps run a community open gym at Douglass. None of Willams’ job titles clearly define how he has served the youth in Columbia. He’s been at Douglass for 19 years, and before that he worked at Fun City, which was a summertime daycare facility.
“I just like to see kids having fun in a good way,” Williams said.
Working as a faculty member at Douglass has allowed Williams to relate to his players on a unique level. His duties as a home-school communicator include enforcing class attendance and discipline policies, as well as helping students with their grades. He makes sure students get to class on time in the mornings, and also helps supervise them during lunch. Williams sees all of his players after school for practice. and afterwards he usually gives a few of them a ride home.
This jack-of-all-trades can also be a disciplinarian if needed.
“I would say once a week I’d run into a player that’s having problems in class or not doing his homework. Then I got to get on him and try to lay the hammer down,” Williams said.
Williams has played multiple roles at Douglass for the past 11 years. It was in 1996 that Williams, at the request of several students, helped start the Douglass basketball program with head coach Lynn Allen. Allen has actually known Williams since the assistant coach was in middle school; Williams played basketball for Jefferson Junior High, and Allen was an opposing coach at West Junior High. The duo have complemented each other as a two-man coaching staff. Williams takes care of tasks behind-the-scenes — “inside stuff,” as Allen described it — while Allen supplies the basketball knowledge.
“He teaches fundamentals better than anyone else in the state,” Williams said of Allen. “He teaches them to the T.”
“I think we have a real unique relationship. We have a lot of mutual respect for one another,” Allen said.
It’s easy to see why Williams has earned Allen’s respect. Williams has seen his players succeed and struggle, but through it all he’s proven to be a consistent source of guidance and support. He’s seen players like Anthony Massengale, who now plays for junior college powerhouse Moberly Area Community College, consider quitting the sport while at Douglass. It was Williams, along with fellow Douglass area youth coach Tracy Edwards, who helped convince the forward to continue playing.
It was Williams who met a then-Oakland junior high ballplayer named Landon Boone. Boone was playing at Midnight Hoops, one of the summertime basketball leagues Williams and Edwards help organize at Douglass Park. The lanky forward was struggling for playing time while he was at Oakland. Williams convinced Boone to apply at Douglass not only for a fresh start with basketball, but also to help him focus academically. The move has paid dividends; Boone, a senior, is a returning All-District performer and an honor roll student.
“I thank him a lot for getting me to come to Douglass. That’s why I call him a true friend, because he looked out for me and helped me out,” Boone said.
Williams is even connected to some players’ families. The mother of senior point guard Cameron Scott also knew Williams when she was a student at Douglass.
“She told me that he was a good guy, and told me that if I ever had problems I could go to him,” Scott said. “When I need a ride, he’s got me and makes sure I’m where I need to be.”
Allen has seen the positive impact Williams makes first-hand.
“I think he’s a good counselor for (the players). He gives them a lot of advice,” Allen said. “He’s kind of like a big brother to them.”
Being a “big brother” comes natural to Williams, who light-heartedly claims to be one of the best Madden players in his age group. Building up his family of basketball players has cost him time with his own family at home.
“I’ve got a little four-year old girl and I’d like to spend a little more time with her. My 14-year-old son kind of deals with it because he knows what I have to do. But my daughter asks sometimes ‘You gotta go to work again daddy?,’” Williams said, his baritone voice suddenly rising up the octave scale as he mimicked his daughter’s voice.
Williams laughed heartily and admitted the three jobs do wear him down, but he’s got plenty of motivation to keep going.
“There’s some days where I’m just like ‘Oh my gosh I got to go the gym again tonight,’ or ‘Man, we got practice again today,’ but it’s worth it for these kids,” Williams said. “(My motivation) is to see these kids graduate from high school and be successful citizens and be powerful role models themselves. That’s what drives me.”