L-R, Aaliyah, Kimberly, Calvin and brother Jeffery Williams with sister Janie McGrew
BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG –ST. PETERSBURG – “I love Dixie,” said Calvin Williams, former track and field coach and current government and economics teacher.
Williams, along with seven other alumni, were inducted into the Dixie Hollins Athletic Hall of Fame last Friday, Oct. 13. Held in the school’s cafeteria, the small ceremony was attended by friends and family of the inductees.
Williams made history for being the first African-American coach to be inducted into Dixie’s Hall of Fame. A former student, graduate of the class of ’86, he began his professional career at the high school in 1999.
From 2000-05, he touts training such athletics as Andre Hall, who played for the Denver Broncos, Kevin Marion, who broke the state record as a long jumper for Dixie and three records at Wake Forest University and Marlon Flakes, who is one of Dixie’s best hurdlers of all-time.
Within two years of being the track and field coach, the team went from sixteenth in the county to fourth and was district runner-ups.
“When I coach, I do not use profanity. I did not beat people down. I didn’t do the coaching stereotype.
Just yell at them. Just put them down. Just force them to do what you want them to do,” said Williams. “What I was doing, and what I always tried to do was to be positive.”
Williams said that he spoke to his team respectfully, encouragingly and always tried to lead by example. “I tried to have that positive influence.”
During his years as coached, Dixie always finished in the top 25 or 30 in the state of Florida. Now, the program is struggling. That could be due, in part, to the lack of the “Williams Express.”
“The Williams Express is that we traveled first class. I tried to make sure when we went out of town somewhere, we would stay in the Hilton. We wouldn’t do the Holiday Inn… I tried to let them know that we were first class,” he chuckled.
Born in Gainesville, he moved to St. Pete with his family when he was about four years old. A “C” average student, he was on the wrestling team at Dixie. After graduation, he spent four and half years in the army where he was stationed in Europe and in Washington State.
Once out of the army, he came back home and received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in African Studies. While coaching at Dixie, he met the love of his life through one of his students. He and his wife Kimberly Brown-Williams are the proud parents of one daughter, who just might be the one to coax him back into coaching.
Other inductees included John Davis, class of 1971, who excelled in both in baseball and football.
He could not attend the ceremony because that night he was coaching an important game at Clearwater Central Catholic. His good friend and mentor, Doug McClaugherty, accepted his award.
Inductee Mike Donohue, class of 1964, shined on the football field and in track and field; Marlon Flakes, class of 2002, was recognized for prowess as a hurdler and Alroy Rickerson for his excellence on the basketball court.
Rickerson took to mike to thank Coach Jamie King for guiding him and instilling in him the discipline and the will to win.
“It was not about the honor, it was not the scoring, it was not about the prestige, it was about winning,” said Rickerson, who flew in expressly from Louisiana to accept his award.
Nate Johnson, class of 1975, was inducted in the Hall of Fame for being a superstar in track and field. His record stands today in the 100-yard dash. He now lives in Canada and was unable to make the trip. His good friend and high school sweetheart, Sandra Fletcher, accepted his award.
Greg Waddell, left, and Doug Redd
Bill Rimby, class of 1967, was inducted for his aptitude on the gridiron. He had a conflict of schedule so his daughter Diana accepted his award. Greg Waddell, class of 1997, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for killing it in the bowling alley and on the soccer field; Tony Massey, class of 1984, was honored for wrestling and Coach Nick Spataro for coaching the wrestling team to almost indestructibility.
“It’s an honor to be able to help these young men become great men in the future,” said Coach Spataro, who thanked his assistant coaches, Ed Bryant and Mike Thompson.
Congratulations to all eight inductees!