Farmington offers new chapter for former college basketball star

Williams thrives in the high school community after basketball career

Rise Up-- University of Massachusetts (UMass) guard Mike Williams (10) puts in the reverse lay-up against the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament on November 24,1993. Williams lead UMass to a 91-86 overtime upset of number one ranked UNC.

Courtesy of UMass Hoops

Rise Up-- University of Massachusetts (UMass) guard Mike Williams (10) puts in the reverse lay-up against the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament on November 24,1993. Williams lead UMass to a 91-86 overtime upset of number one ranked UNC.

Frank Fishman, Sports Editor

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In the early to mid-1990s, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Minutemen stood near the top of the college basketball world. With the likes of coach John Calipari and center Marcus Camby, UMass reached new heights for the program, with frequent number one rankings in the Associated Press (AP) poll and multiple deep postseason runs.

However, Calipari and Camby weren’t the only two responsible for the Minutemen’s prominence, as Hartford-native Mike Williams was a double-digit scorer throughout his career and came through with last-second heroics in crunchtime.

Upon leaving UMass, Williams kept pursuing his basketball aspirations. He went overseas to play professionally before trying out for the Denver Nuggets, making it to the last round of cuts. He then worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers prior to heading overseas once more. As his playing career came to a close, Williams began to look for new opportunities off the court.

“I started working with kids, which I love doing. I got a job in the Hartford school system, and from there I just kept working with a variety of students. I eventually came to Farmington through an online notice for an opportunity that I saw. I took a look at it and knew I would like to do it,” Williams said.

At the high school, Williams works as a paraprofessional and works with students in the classroom. Sophomore Travis Mancini works with Williams in his English class.

“Mr. Mike is the best one to one [tutor] I ever met. He makes me laugh, and he makes me happy. I am glad he is working with me because if he was not working with me I do not know what I would do. I just can’t thank him enough,” Mancini said.

Williams went back to school, as he retained his scholarship and was able to continue as a UMass student. Williams earned a degree in Sports Management, one of the university’s renowned academic programs, opening opportunities for coaching, general management, physical education, and scouting. Although he has interest and capability in all those professions given his playing experience and ability to recognize and point out talent, he has yet to really pursue that career.

“I’ve never fully went all out for it, so I blame myself for not having the ability to fall and be okay with not having a solution. It’s one of my character flaws that has me stagnant. I really don’t like a lot of attention, and I try too hard to put things on the back burner. It has caused me to stumble and get me tripped up sometimes, like my shoes are untied,” Williams said.

Even though he wants to follow his desires to work in the sports field, he is nonetheless happy with his position at Farmington.

“I love the job and I really appreciate the opportunity here. I love the community and the spirit. The bondage was natural, and the district welcomed me with open arms. I don’t want to leave, so hopefully I get to stay here for years to come. Moving forward, I feel in a good spiritual place, and I hope to build something here and continue my work helping kids. I want to keep assisting Coach Witter with his players in any shape or form,” Williams said.

According to Witter, the team is fortunate to have Williams’ wealth of knowledge about the game available to them.

In addition to his work, Williams is a father . According to Williams, he tries to be the “provider and protector” to his children that his dad was to him by “setting the standards,” by helping them grow from mistakes.

“It’s good to face some things if you’re looking to have growth. Sometimes you just have to hear something that you need instead of what you want, and that goes both on and off the court. A lot of athletes, specifically basketball players, focus so much on what’s going on on the court, but it’s off the court that really matters: in the classroom, how you govern yourself, any little problems, and being a part of a community. I want to pass down my experience so that I can help someone, and so that they can help someone too. It’s all a lineage, and I’m hoping to build that,” Williams said.