GRANTS – Grants High School’s new football coach, Nicholas Williams and wife Charlene, made a whirlwind tour through the County last week, meeting with prospective players, their parents other GHS athletic coaches and community members.
Through it all, there was a lot of talk and questions about Williams’ approach to offense, defense and special teams, but there seemed to be an equal amount of talk centered on what Pirate football players will be doing off the field while under his tutelage.
Prospective players were the first to cross Williams’ path, at a gathering Monday afternoon at the GHS cafeteria. Williams and the players talked for some time, then the players flooded the sign-up table, which was a bit of a surprise to Williams.
“They said they’re ready to roll and that enthused me, because I’m ready to go too,” Williams said. “I wish we could have started the season yesterday; I’m ready to coach them and I’m ready to watch them win and grow.”
Williams said he hopes to be permanently in Grants by July 1; school at Burbank High School in San Antonio, where Williams currently works, won’t release for summer until mid-June, and he said he would also be working out the logistics of his and his family’s move.
Until then, players have a workout regimen they can work on, one that includes lifting weights, under the watchful eye of GHS coaches Leon Bachman and Andrew Gordon who have both stepped forward to support Williams’ endeavors, and a running program.
“I gave them a workout,” Williams said. “They should be working out with weights, and there’s a running program too. I hope it will hold them over for a few weeks. When I get here we’ll be able to get into more stuff, more lifting and things like that. They’re hungry.”
Speaking of hunger, it was then it was off to a coaches-only social at a local restaurant, though Williams seemed slightly confused after hearing a question common around New Mexico.
“The waitress asked me if I wanted ‘red or green,’” Williams said with a chuckle. “I really didn’t know what she was talking about.”
When it comes to community service, though, Williams had a lot to talk about.
And in fact, at Tuesday afternoon’s meeting with members of the community, the talk in the room hardly even focused on football. He touted his “Heroes in the Community” program, one in which players would visit places like the Good Samaritan-Grants on Saturdays after practice, and spend time with residents. He also said that players – and he stressed that he hoped all athletes from GHS would get involved – would take some time during the week to visit elementary and middle schools to read with the kids at those schools.
All of it, he said, was not necessarily for those who the Pirates will be serving.
“This is for you,” Williams told the players in attendance. “I want to tell you, ‘Give back, and don’t regret it.’ It’s my job to make sure I develop better men and fathers and contributors to society. It’s up to them to reach out, and I’ll make sure they will have the opportunity to.”
Of course, Williams did discuss some of his football strategy, after one attendee asked if he liked to focus more on offense or defense.
“I’m a football coach. I hate to give favoritism to one side of the ball,” he said. “I like offense, it sells tickets. But you’ve heard the cliché that defense wins championships. I think that special teams are probably the most important of them all, and we’ll do that every day at the start of practice, even on light days.”
He added that he thought the Pirates would run the ball approximately 65 percent of the time, but do it through a spread offense, a model he said that 80 percent of college teams around the nation are currently using.
As for those practices, Williams said he and the Pirates would try as hard as they could to be efficient in their sessions.
On the lightest day of the week, Monday, the Pirates will watch film and practice special teams drills, then run 10 “practice periods” of five minutes each. On heavier days, Williams said the team would have 24 practice periods, and said that Thursday before games would be lighter as well, so as not to “bump heads too much” the day before a game.
“I think we should get things done in a timely manner,” Williams said. “I care about the classroom so much, that I want the players to get home get good rest, and focus on their studies so that’s taken care of.”
One item of concern from the community seemed to center on a major issue: the idea of building Pirate pride throughout the County, with the help of a booster club that could help spread that message of pride. GHS Athletic Director spoke about how the New Mexico Equities Act directs schools on how to evenly distribute spending among male and female athletes, but promised that there would be a booster club in place by August.
Williams said that the booster club at Burbank has become invaluable to its football program there, and said he hoped its re-installation at GHS would come to fruition.
“When we pulled into town, on Santa Fe Avenue, I thought to myself, ‘There should be something out here, Angry Jack or something like that,’” a comment that drew excited reactions from the crowd. “We have a wood shop class here and they can build things we can put out there. We can fund raise and get those flags all the way down the Avenue, something that says ‘Home of the Pirates’ or something like that.”
“That would boost our morale, the players’ morale and hopefully make them motivated to work harder at what they do.”