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The Bradsher Beat
Friday, June 22, 2007

By Bethany Bradsher

'New' coach no stranger to ECU links ladies

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

The trouble with juggling is you have to focus on the group of things rather than the individual items themselves. That’s the lesson Kevin Williams learned during his first stint as an East Carolina golf coach.

Kevin Williams

[Photo: ECU SID]

Now Williams has returned to the Pirate golf scene, but with one major difference: His juggling days are behind him.

On Wednesday Williams was introduced – or actually re-introduced – as the Pirates head golf coach. But this time, much to his relief, he will coach only the women’s team.

Two years ago Williams, who came to ECU to lead the men’s team in 1995, was the coach for both the men’s and women’s ECU teams. He had agreed to the arrangement in 2000 when the women’s program started, but as the years went on he couldn’t avoid the feeling that neither team was getting the care it needed.

“When I was spending a lot of my time with the women’s program, I could see the guys slipping a bit,” he said. “Then I could see that I needed to be with the men’s team a little more, but then the women’s team needed more attention.”

Overwhelmed with the multitasking, late in 2005 Williams was offered a job as the golf pro at Walnut Creek Country Club in Goldsboro. Before he left he told athletic director Terry Holland that he felt the golf teams would stagnate without two separate coaches. Holland assured him that a plan to split the two jobs was already in the works.

Before long Kim Lewellen and Press McPhaul had come to campus as the new coaches of the women’s and men’s teams, respectively. Lewellen raised the profile of the team with appearances on two different series of the “Big Break” television show and a Conference USA championship for the women in 2006.

But the University of Virginia noticed Lewellen’s success, too, and on May 3 ECU announced that the Cavaliers had lured her away to become their head coach. Williams, who had been in frequent contact with Lewellen and had helped her with some tournaments, initially referred one of his former ECU players to be considered for the job. So a phone call from the athletic department one day took him off guard, he said.

“When they called me up, it kind of surprised me,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for a job.”

Still, he had always wanted the chance to focus on one squad, and he has missed some aspects of coaching – the competitive environment, the focus on recruiting, the opportunity to teach. Add to that the fact that he had personally recruited every 2007-’08 golfer except for three new freshmen, and Williams discovered that he was anxious to return to the Pirate Nation.

“I guess everything’s kind of come full circle,” he said. “Really, the most enticing thing to me was coming back and coaching one team.”

Most of the golfers, who are home playing in individual tournaments over the summer, won’t have the burden of getting acquainted with a third new coach, because they already have a history with Williams. But the team’s top player, rising junior Lene Krog, is transferring to Virginia with Lewellen, and part of Williams’ recruiting effort will be in finding a top-flight player to take her place, probably a recruit who will come in midyear.

Krog’s departure certainly hurts, but Williams is optimistic when he watches players like Emelie Lind, Ana Maria Puche and Abby Bools, he said. He looks forward to building a team with the type of determination and chemistry that doesn’t depend on just one player.

And when he needs some coaching advice or a sounding board for golf theory, Williams can finally look further than the mirror’s reflection. He can just walk to the next office and talk to men’s head coach McPhaul.

“Before, the person I always bounced things off of was (longtime ECU track coach) Bill Carson,” Williams said. “I told Press, it’d be nice to talk to somebody who knows something about golf.”

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06/22/2007 02:10:45 AM

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