Williams named CCC women’s basketball coach

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    By Josh Troy

    Clarksdale Advocate

    “I’m back,” Shanae Govan Williams said those words during the press conference announcing her as the new Coahoma Community College women’s basketball coach in the school’s SAFE room Thursday morning.

    Williams spent three years in Clarksdale as the Lee Academy girls’ basketball coach from 2014 to 2017. She was the first African American coach at Lee Academy. Her next stop was as the Crossett High School girls’ coach in Crossett, Ark., from 2017 to 2021. She then was the Magnolia High School girls’ coach in Magnolia, Ark., from 2021 to 2022, and most recently was the Bryant High School girls’ coach in Bryant, Ark., from 2022 to 2023. She is a 2010 Crossett High School graduate.

    Williams is a 2015 Delta State University graduate. She was a guard, played 59 games in 30 starts during her junior and senior years with the Lady Statesmen, shot 41.1% from the field, had 114 steals, and averaged 3.17 assists per game. She played for Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Ark., her first two years of college.

    Now, Williams will be coaching basketball at the college level for the first time.

    “God is so good,” Williams said. “I’m speechless now.”

    Williams said she gives the glory to God for every opportunity and part of life. She thanked CCC President Dr. Valmadge Towner, Athletic Director Selina Reid, the board, and the selection committee for the opportunity.

    Williams also thanked her husband, Drew, for allowing her to chase her dreams as they moved to different communities in the past few years. Shanae and Drew Williams have a son, Nash.

    Six years later, Williams looks back on her experience at Lee Academy fondly and hopes to have similar success living in Clarksdale as the Lady Tigers coach.

    “It was an amazing experience, but I’m just extremely blessed to be on this side of the community,” she said. “We just really would love your support.”

    Williams said the community rallied around her predecessor, Stephanie Murphy, and hopes her teams receive the same support. She encouraged everyone to look for more information about the Lady Tigers on social media in the near future.

    Williams acknowledged everyone who helped make the program a success in the past.

    “I want to salute you and say that I’m ready to learn,” she said. “I want to listen. I want to grow and know more about the tradition of the Lady Tigers.”

    Williams said she wants her athletes to know about the history of the program.

    “It’s important to know about the foundation,” she said. “It’s important to know where the program has come from.”

    Williams said she is ready to help her athletes with basketball, life, character, and more.

    “I’m excited,” she said. “I appreciate this opportunity. I hope that you all rally behind us.”

    “Let’s go Tigers,” she continued.

    Towner said Williams is the 10th Lady Tigers head coach, noting John H. Griffin was the first coach beginning in 1957. He added Ella Morris was the longest-tenured coach at 30 years and retired in 1998.

    Towner said Morris was the most successful Lady Tigers coach, but the program fell on hard times after she left. He said when Murphy was the coach, she verified that CCC could win, as many people knew.

    The women’s basketball team has the highest collective GPA on campus.

    Towner presented Williams with a jersey, shirt, and sun visor, and Drew Williams with a hat.

    “We want her to know that we’re with her all the way and we’re happy to have her here,” Towner said. “We believe that she is very reputable. She moved up to the top after a rigorous interview process, and we’re excited about the prospect of doing well, continuing to win.”

    Reid said Williams was chosen out of nearly 100 applicants for the position.

    “We are so grateful to all the candidates who have been here and the ones who applied for this position,” Reid said. “Thank you so very much. The candidate that was chosen has that ‘it’ factor that will continue the success of our women’s basketball program and will be a valuable asset to our athletic department along with our entire Coahoma Community College campus.”

    Reid said Williams is a four-time published author and motivational speaker and has a passion for teaching young ladies life skills through basketball.

    John Mayo spoke on behalf of the search committee.

    “When she entered the room, she owned the room,” said Mayo about Williams. “She’s the only one of those we interviewed who shook hands with everybody.

    “Besides her basketball experience, the one thing that we noticed about her is she’s going to have our women’s team believing. She’s a motivator. She had us believing in her.

    Mayo said he told Reid that if Williams was not named the basketball coach, she should be hired in some capacity.

    CCC Board President, the Rev. Dennis Hawkins, and board members Alvis Pryor, Lois McMurchy, and David Williams were all on hand to welcome Williams as the new coach.

    “Welcome to Coahoma,” Hawkins said. “Anything we can do to assist you and your family, anything the board can do, we are here.”

    Williams expressed gratitude to her supporters from Lee Academy who attended the press conference.

    “Look around the room. My experience at Lee Academy shows,” said Williams as the room applauded. “At 22 years old, it was my first coaching job ever.”

    John Chrestman was at the press conference and helped Williams get her first job at Lee Academy.

    “I met him at a basketball camp when I was playing at Delta State,” Williams said.

    One year later, Williams said Chrestman called her, letting her know that the Fillies needed a basketball coach.

    Tommy Gunn was the Lee Academy headmaster in 2014 and hired Williams as the first African American coach at Lee.

    “The late Tommy Gunn, who just passed away, hired me,” Williams said. “The day he hired me, he came in and said, ‘Shanae, I don’t care about the color of your skin. I don’t care if you’re black, blue, or purple. I just want someone who’s going to build these young ladies up, who’s going to teach them life lessons through loving the game of basketball.'”

    Williams said she was blessed to represent how the bridge can be gapped in the community.

    Playing college basketball, coaching in public and private schools, and in both Mississippi and Arkansas has given Williams a wide range of experience coming into her new position.

    “I have seen the best and the worst talent,” she said.

    For the past two seasons, Williams coached at Bryant High School, which was in Class 6A, the highest classification in Arkansas. She coached against athletes who went on to play basketball at the Division 1 and 2 levels.

    Williams expects that experience and the relationships she has built to help her in the recruiting process at CCC.

    “They’ve been able to watch and see what I’ve been able to do,” she said.

    Williams is using basketball to make a difference in the lives of others.

    “I never really desired to be a basketball coach,” she said. “I majored in social work.”

    Williams, the daughter of Cynthia Hodges, said she grew up in a single-parent home, watching her mother sacrifice, and always had a desire to give back to others.

    “For me, basketball was more than just a sport,” she said. “It served as a vehicle for me to become more than just a basketball player. I utilize my personal story to write books and inspire others through motivational speaking.”

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