The Chester community feels a heavy heart this week with word of the passing of long time Thomas Dale High School football coach Vic Williams. In the sports world, there are few who earn the right to be called simply by a single name. Among Williams’ peers in the coaching profession there are only a few, but throughout central Virginia and across the state, the Knights’ coaching legend was simply Vic. In a quarter of a century, Vic made his mark as a winner both on the field and in the lives of the thousands of athletes he coached.
Next to mom and dad, coach has often been the most significant person in the life of a youngster. In an era when fully half of all youngsters are born without a dad in the home (in minority homes the number grows to 70 percent), the coach’s role becomes even more significant. Vic understood this and continued to battle for his kids long after his health dictated he do otherwise.
It had to have been by the grace of God that Vic was rewarded with a Division 6 state title in his last season at the helm. In the end though, as Vic shared with the reporters after the clock ticked to 0:00, “It’s all about the kids.”
And I believe the kids must have known.
The Knights started the 2009 season a shaky 1-2. Talented teams like Meadowbrook and Matoaca loomed on the horizon. Thoughts of survival were probably more relevant than thoughts of a championship at that point. In the season’s fourth week though, something happened. The senior-laden Knights and their coach formed a bond of trust. Dale took down one opponent after another on the road to a Central District title. The more the kids believed, the more breaks fell their way. In the state semis, the heavens even opened up, thus leveling the playing field against one of the most talented Virginia teams in decades. The State Championship game was almost anticlimactic, as Vic brought his Knights home from Charlottesville with the only Division 6 title ever won by a Central District team.
Times have been hard lately in the Williams’ household. I know the family has appreciated the outpouring of love and caring as colleagues and former players have dropped by and been in prayer for their fellow competitor and coach. Sadness will ultimately turn to joy as the remembrances of Vic’s actions replace the loss of the moment.
JoPa, the Bear, Bo, Woody and Tubby are college legends that we can all identify by just the one name. High school fans across the state can add Vic to the list.