Life and Death of a Local Coaching Legend

Thursday, December 1, 2016
This yearbook photo shows former PHS coach Carl "Zig" Williams speaks with Mohawk quarterback Jimmy Johnson during a contest at Parker Field.

There are many ways to gauge the measure of a man, and everyone has their opinion as to what is the most important. In the life of a coach, any coach for that matter, you're apt to be judged by your wins and losses as much anything else you might do over the course of your career. But, the true gauge of a coach is the impact he or she has on their players, opponents and peers. It offers the opportunity to be a huge influence in the life of a young person, and play a key role in their development as an adult.

When former Piggott Mohawk football coach Carl "Zig" Williams died recently he left a winning record as both a coach and a man, and the results of his work both on and off the field are still felt to this day.

A native of the Pollard area, Williams took over a struggling PHS football program in 1960 and transformed it into the pride of the community. Along the way he guided the squad over 10 seasons, compiling a record of 82-18-5, and playing a role in a winning streak of more than 25 games.

After leading the Tribe to the district championship in 1969, the only one in school history, he left for a job in Missouri. He went on to coach the Mountain Grove Panthers from 1970 through 1986, compiling a record of 124-60-6 at the school. When he retired from coaching following the 1986 season he left the sideline with a lifetime record of 206 wins, 60 losses and 6 ties.

The impact Coach Williams had on both schools is immeasurable, as he shaped the lives of young men in ways few other coaches could. The lasting impression was evident at the time of his death, with a memorial service held in the arena of Mountain Grove High School and another held at Hoggard and Sons Funeral Home in Piggott.

Zig Williams left a legacy in both communities which will be felt for generations to come, as he not only instilled the values of hard work and practice but also of dedication to a cause and giving all you have. If you were a successful player for Zig Williams, you had a good work ethic--he wouldn't have it any other way.

I have no way of knowing the impact the coach had on Mountain Grove, but the local influence is on display every day. Many of our civic leaders and businessmen toiled under the watchful eye and whistle of Coach Williams, and they carried the lessons with them into adulthood. They, in turn, passed these life lessons on to their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren--effectively keeping the legacy alive.

In more recent years our local coaches have embraced the history and traditions of the Williams coached teams, and welcomed the veterans of those campaigns as returning heroes to share the experiences with today's players. It forms a bond neither will forget.

Those of us too young to have played for Coach Williams will never know how he may have impacted our lives, too, but through the lessons he left behind future generations may benefit from his wisdom. If you're looking for an accurate yardstick on how to judge the impact he had during his 25-plus seasons of coaching you'll need a long one.

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