George Williams, the head coach of St. Augustine’s University’s track and field team, has built one of America’s most formidable collegiate athletic programs. Williams has coached over 40 Olympians over the course of his 40-plus year career and sent four students from the North Carolina HBCU to the Rio Summer Olympics.
Williams has been coaching at St. Augustine’s since 1976, building up the Division II school’s reputation as a track and field powerhouse. In 2004, Williams was the head coach of the U.S. Track and Field team in the Summer Olympics in Athens and snagged a record 19 medals. The Rio Summer Games is Williams’ eighth Olympics, although this year his pool of athletes is considerably smaller.
Just four of Williams’ team members qualified for the Games this year. Two of his most promising stars, hurdlers Johnny Dutch and Bershawn Jackson, did not make the cut at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Burkheart Ellis Jr. and Tia-Adana Belle, both representing Barbados, are in Rio competing in the 200 meters and 400 hurdles respectively. Roxroy Cato, representing Jamaica, is competing in the 400 hurdles and is a 2012 Olympian. Jeffrey Gibson, representing the Bahamas, is also competing in the 400 hurdles event.
Williams, who also serves as the university’s athletic director, coached Ellis’ parents at St. Augustine’s and continues to pass his winning wisdom on to their children.
St. Augustine’s is the most-decorated Division II athletics program in the nation.
(Photo: St. Augustine’s)