SDN Girls Coach of Year – Kristie Williams

Kristie Williams
Staff Writer

One would be hard pressed to find someone with roots planted deeper at Starkville High School than Kristie Williams.
As head coach of the Lady Yellowjackets, Williams has built an even stronger basketball tradition at the school than was there when she was a part of the last state championship as a player in the early 1990’s.
This past season was one of the best in the program’s existence as Williams led her team to an undefeated 31-0 record into the Class 6A State championship game. In her last four seasons alone, Williams is 100-16 and has won 23-straight regular season district games dating back to the 2013-14 season.
The one thing that is left for Williams to do is stand in the middle of the Mississippi Coliseum court in Jackson with a trophy that reads “State Champions.” Only one loss blemished the Starkville record this season and it happened to be in its final game against Olive Branch.
“To get to that stage was a blessing and an honor,” Williams said. “I hope that we represented Starkville and the community well enough. I hope that everybody understands that although we didn’t win the gold ball, we played our very best.”
For three-straight seasons, Starkville has made it to Jackson as a final eight participant only to come up short. This past season saw the Lady Jackets get over the hump and make it all the way to the championship round before falling short.
The fact that her team had the resilience to reel off 31-consecutive wins was evidence enough of the hard work her players put in. Senior All-Area player and 2016 Starkville Daily News Player of the Year Kelsey Jones led the way with another double-double average this season despite constant double teams.
Jones leadership throughout the last three seasons has been key.
“It started with Kelsey Jones – the lone senior in our group,” Williams said. “Her leadership trickled down to the other players. She’s such a go-to type of player that her teammates feel comfortable enough to give their best. Her presence alone brought so much to the table.”
As for Jones, she’s felt developed by her coach. Williams began coaching the talented senior when she was in ninth grade and has watched her grow into one of the best players in the entire state of Mississippi.
“It was an awesome four years playing at Starkville,” Jones said. “As soon as I came from eighth grade, I went to high school so even when I was little, coach Williams pushed me. She prepared me a whole lot pushing me every day to get to where I am right now.”
Williams continues to have a passion to bring her school another state title and she wants to see her players reap the benefits of their work.  While Jones won’t be running the court in a Starkville uniform next season, Williams will have the majority of her nucleus back including All-Area players Tabreea Gandy and Jariyah Covington.
The expectation is to compete for a state title every single season now.
Williams has set that precedent.  
“We expect to get right back to that very stage, that very moment and that very night," Williams said. "We expect to bring that gold ball on home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Kelsey the gold ball that she so desired, but hopefully we can come back. Our offseason is going to be very tough and it will be nothing less than their best effort.”