Altus Public Schools
Members of the Oklahoma wrestling community, along with Altus Public Schools faculty and members of the Altus community gathered on Monday, May 22, 2017 to dedicate the Altus Schools’ wrestling center to long-time Altus coach, Nick Williams.
Coach Williams began his career in Altus in 2004 as a physical education teacher and head wrestling coach. He has also coached football and golf for Altus. In his 13-year tenure at the helm of Bulldog Wrestling, Coach Williams produced 62 state qualifiers, 21 state placers, 15 state champions and eight All-Americans. He was named the 2010 5A Coach of the Year and 2010 All State Coach, as well as the 2016 5A Coach of the Year. Previously, at Madill High School, Coach Williams was named the 2002 2A Coach of the Year.
Throughout the dedication ceremony, fellow wrestling coaches Larry James of Shawnee, Brandon Benson of Duncan and Todd Goolsby from the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association spoke about Coach Williams dedication to the sport of wrestling and his outstanding reputation across not only the state of Oklahoma, but also the nation.
“Nick is a valued member of the wrestling advisory board and a respected leader of wrestling throughout the state of Oklahoma,” OSSAA Assistant Director Goolsby said. “His hard work, commitment, and dedication are second to none.”
Coach Brandon Benson worked under Coach Williams in the Altus program before moving to Duncan as their head wrestling coach.
“I am very thankful that Nick and I’s paths crossed; as I gained not only a great colleague, but a close friend as well,” Benson said. “Working under Nick allowed me to learn many things that I still use to this day as a coach – hard work, fairness, tenacity, and loyalty. I would be hard pressed to find someone who has given so much to his profession, nor do I believe I could find a coach that works harder at his craft.
“Outside of coaching, I learned by watching how to merge my professional and family life. I witnessed the very definition of a great father who always put his family first. Experiencing first hand the culture Nick has built in Altus’ program was a fantastic opportunity; and speaking as a father of a potential future Bulldog wrestler, I am elated my son will have the opportunity to grow up in such a program. This dedication is a true testament to what Coach Williams has invested and given to a program where he touched the lives of so many, and I am very thankful for the impact he has had on mine.”
Altus Schools Superintendent Roger Hill and Altus Board President Kelley Duncan presented Coach Williams with a proclamation and a copy of the sign that will hang above the entrance to the Nick Williams Wrestling Center.
“Altus has one of the premier wrestling programs in Oklahoma. Coach Williams has built a program that year after year contends for state championships in Class 5A,” Hill said.
In the most moving presentation of the evening, three-time Bulldog Wrestling State Champion and Nick Williams’ step-son, Cameron Loving, presented his coach with a shadow box containing all three of the state champion medals they won together.
“He has made me a do it right the first time kind of guy,” Loving said.
He then addressed Coach Williams personally saying, “You have always been in my corner, not only for me but everyone else. And, it is now time for all of us to be in your corner, Coach.”
In the Spring of 2017, Nick Williams was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
“The wrestling community is deeply saddened by the news of Nick’s diagnosis with ALS,” Todd Goolsby said. “I believe there is strength in numbers, and I believe in the power of prayer. Nick has a great number of supporters and it is our duty to pray daily for Nick and his family. Life’s toughest obstacles can make us bitter or better. I believe Nick will choose to make it better.”
The Bulldog family rallied around their beloved coach and through the sale of Take Down ALS t-shirts raised more than $3,500 for Coach Williams. Altus High School wrestling standout Gage Gomez presented Coach Williams with a check on Monday night on behalf of the community of Altus.
“I’ve had dreams about instilling so much into wrestling to be recognized like I was tonight,” Coach Williams said.” Wow what an honor! I must thank God, my family, my athletes, my coaching family my friends and my bulldog family for allowing me to teach and coach with passion.
The ceremony ended with Altus Mat Maids Sponsor and Williams’ family friend, Mrs. Roberta Brady Lee reminding the crowd, “There’s A Bulldog in the House!” A reception followed the presentations allowing Bulldog family, coaches and supporters to show their love and gratitude to Coach Nick Williams.