Benedictine Military School has hired Dr. Frank Williams as an English teacher and varsity basketball head coach, BC Principal Jacob Horne announced on March 16, 2020.
Williams, 61, has more than 25 years of experience in secondary and post-secondary education. He will join BC’s faculty for the 2020-21 school year and will take over coaching BC’s varsity basketball team when mathematics teacher Mr. Bob Williams retires at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
He takes over a team that posted a 15-15 overall record during the 2019-20 season and advanced to the first round of the state AAA playoffs where they lost to Monroe 60-42.
Dr Williams could be making history at the school. When asked if Dr. Williams was the first African American head coach at Benedictine, Noell Barnidge, who is the BC communications coordinator replied “We think so but we haven’t been able to 100 percent verify that.”
Galen Houston, an African-American BC alumnus, is the Cadets head track & field coach so Dr. Williams could be the first African-American to lead Benedictine in a major sport.
A Savannah native, Dr.Frank Williams comes to BC from Savannah State University’s Division of Academic Affairs, where he serves as the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development Program Director. He has worked at SSU since 2014 and served as BC’s junior-varsity basketball coach for the past two years.
“I’m extremely honored to have this opportunity,” Dr. Frank Williams said. “My best friend’s sons attended and graduated from Benedictine. I’ve been around BC for at least 10 years straight. But that was on the outside looking in. Over the past two years, I’ve been able to work with a lot of people within the BC community. I’m proud of what they do and what they stand for, and I’m proud to be able to become a part of it.”
Said BC’s Horne, “Dr. Williams is the selection committee’s unanimous first choice among many candidates to join the BC faculty as an English teacher for the 2020-21 school year. In addition to Dr. Williams’ profound credentials and passion for teaching, the support for Dr. Williams from Cadets, parents, faculty members, and community members is overwhelming. Dr. Williams is an educator first and foremost, who is passionate for his subject and the young people with whom he works. As we have seen over the past two years, that same passion transcends the classroom to the basketball court, where he will serve as head coach. We all look forward to working with Dr. Williams in support of Benedictine’s mission.”
Dr. Williams earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of Florida in 1995. He earned a master’s degree in English at Bowling
Green State University in 1984, and a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at Savannah State College in 1982.
“Frank does a great job as a basketball coach but he’s one of the best English teachers in the state” said Savannah High School Athletic Director and Boys Basketball Head Coach Mr. Tim Jordan, who first met Williams in the late 1970s when they both dove for a loose basketball during an intramural game while attending Savannah State College (now University). “He’s a teacher who coaches, not a coach who teaches. He’ll be an excellent addition to BC in the classroom and on the basketball court. The kids say he’s tough but he’ll make you learn. And you know, kids need that discipline whether they realize it or not. He does good things with people’s kids. BC did itself a favor by hiring him.”
Dr. Williams was one of Jordan’s assistants on Savannah High’s 1998 state championship team. During a seven-year span, they also guided Savannah High to a state runner-up finish in 2001 and a third-place finish in 2003.
Beach High School hired Dr. Williams in 2003. He coached the boys’ varsity basketball team to a state semifinal appearance in 2004 and a state runner-up finish in 2006. Dr. Williams left teaching in 2006 and worked as a consultant before returning to education as Strayer University’s Campus Dean in 2009.
Dr. Williams got his coaching start at Savannah Technical College.
“Coach Russell Ellington was the athletics director head men’s basketball coach at Savannah Tech and he asked me to work with the women’s team. I told him that I didn’t have any coaching experience but he said that he would teach me.”
During the 1995- 96 season, the Lady Panthers defeated perennial champion, Truett-McConnell, for the Georgia Region XVII Championship and advanced to the national tournament. Dr. Williams said that Savannah Tech had a satisfactory run in the national tournament, finishing the season in the top half of the national tourney bracket.
While Dr. Williams, who grew up on Savannah’s westside, has proven to be a successful basketball coach, he was not a student-athlete in high school. “I went to Johnson High School but I did not play sports. I was too small and not good enough to make the teams, although my brothers and sisters were very good athletes,” he stated.
Mr. Bob Williams, who has been Dr. Frank Williams’ direct supervisor for the past two years that Dr. Williams has served as BC’s junior-varsity basketball coach, said he is “a generous, thoughtful, moral individual who maintains high personal and professional standards. He has represented BC and the basketball program throughout the basketball community in a positive way. Frank is energetic, honest, hardworking and highly motivated. I sincerely give Frank Williams my highest recommendation for he has the ability, knowledge, and work ethic to be an exceptional educator and coach in a demanding academic and athletic environment.”
Noell Barnidge, Benedictine’s Communication Coordinator, contributed to this story.