With the news of Roy Williams’ retirement, I had so much I wanted to share here but as a lifelong Tar Heel fan, nothing more so than thanks.
First and foremost, I wanted to thank Coach Williams for loving the University of North Carolina and what it represents to so many people like me in this state.
His connection to and support of UNC is unparalleled.
Roy Williams attended Carolina, coached at Carolina and has raised more money for the institution than anyone in recent history. He donates his own money too. Last month he and his wife, Wanda, gave $3 million to the university, asking that half of it go to support low-income scholarship students.
I cannot imagine how difficult their decision to leave Lawrence, Kansas was, same way I can’t fathom how hard it was not to leave the first time he was asked. Knowing that he was going to be disappointing friends, family, colleagues and other loved ones no matter what he chose had to have been both an amazing opportunity and terrible burden. I’m thankful that he and Miss Wanda came back to Chapel Hill.
I also wanted to thank Coach Williams for caring about winning almost as much as he does the university. I don’t believe anyone cares more about Tar Heel basketball than Roy Williams.
His passion and success has not come without sacrifice, however and while he has proven himself among the best to ever coach the game, he has loves beyond basketball and UNC.
I imagine being the basketball coach at Carolina is a 365-day a year job. While that kind of work ethic is required to win three championships in 18 years, it also equates to countless missed holidays, birthdays, events and potential memories with family and friends.
After 48 years of spending more time with other people’s kids than his own, I’m thankful Roy gets to now dedicate some days to hanging out with his own children’s children. I’m guessing he’ll make a little more time for golf too.
I’m certain the last 18 years for Roy Williams have been exciting and memorable but I’m also confident they were challenging and exhausting. He dealt with the loss of one of his best friends and the death of several mentors over the last decade.
All the while experiencing the stress that comes with his job whilst navigating more change and turmoil surrounding college and UNC athletics than ever before. It could not have been easy, yet he managed to do it with class and win more than anyone else in the country.
I want to once again thank Coach Williams and his family for all they have done. The University of North Carolina and its basketball program is better because of them.
David Friedman is a long time sports writer and lifelong believer that BLM. David can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.