Williams takes over as CR girls’ basketball coach

CAMDEN — The funny thing is, Tameka Williams didn’t know if she could stick around under Bill Victory.

Not at first, anyway.

Williams was a junior point guard at Caesar Rodney High in 1992 when Victory was hired as the Riders’ girls’ basketball coach. She couldn’t believe all the running he made the players do.

“I said, but you know what?” said Williams, “We were some tough kids by the time that was done.”

Not only did Williams play for two seasons under Victory, but she came back after playing at Wesley College and spent the last 21 seasons as one of Victory’s assistant coaches.

Now Williams gets to be the coach that replaces him.

After being hired as CR’s head coach earlier this fall, the 43-year-old Williams will make her debut today when the Riders open the season with a 5 p.m. contest at Sussex Central.

Victory retired as a teacher last spring. In his 26 seasons, CR was a perennial Henlopen Conference and state tournament contender.

Williams is excited about the opportunity.

“We knew this day eventually would come,” said Williams, whose maiden name is McCullough. “We haven’t had a whole lot of conversation with the kids about the transition. I think we’ve been with each so long as a collective unit, it just seemed like the next phase would be myself or Frank (becoming head coach) at some point and the kids have understood that.”

Frank Victory, Bill’s son, is also a longtime assistant coach who has stayed on with the program.

Williams said she “learned so much” playing for and coaching with Bill Victory.

After playing for Williams on the junior varsity squad, CR’s veteran players were happy when she got the job.

“I love Coach ‘Vic,’ but I was really excited that she was going to be the head coach,” said senior guard Laynee Ford. “It was comforting because she already knew what was going on and how everything worked.

“She’s very patient. That helps to make things run smoothly.”

“She’s very patient,” agreed junior Lillian Ayers. “We’ve learned a lot from her because she has experience playing on a girls’ basketball team as well.”

Ayers said she was “kind of scared” that someone from the outside might be the next coach. “But now I know it’ll be very similar. It won’t be too much of an adjustment.”

To be sure, this is an extremely young CR team. While the Riders went 14-8 last winter, there are only two seniors — Ford and Trinity Wailes — on a roster that includes one sophomore and three freshmen.

Second-team All-Stater Kylie Kornegay-Lucas transferred to a New Hope Academy in Hyattsville, Md. for her senior year. She recently committed to East Carolina.

Also, sophomore Jada McCullough — Williams’ niece — transferred to Caravel.

Williams knows that staying positive will be important in her first season as a varsity head coach.

“We have a lot to learn,” she said. “But I’m excited with how hard they work and what they give me every day. There’s a lot of things that they don’t know but the effort and the work ethic, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

“You just let them know that there’s going to be some bumps in the road but we’re going to get to where we need to go.”

“We’re rebuilding now but I see we have potential,” said Ayers. “We have a really close team.”

“There’s definitely some work to be done, but we’ll get there eventually,” said Ford.

Williams has spent plenty of time around basketball coaches in her life. Her brother, Tiff McCullough, is CR’s former head boys’ basketball coach while her husband, Freeman Williams, is the current one.

Williams said that she and Freeman have given each other their share of coaching advice over the years.

“I would say the biggest difference now is planning for a varsity team vs. planning for your JV team is a lot more time consuming,” said Tameka. “Luckily he understands what I do now because he’s already done it.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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