06/21/07 — Walnut Creek's Williams headed back to ECU

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Walnut Creek's Williams headed back to ECU

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 21, 2007 1:48 PM

A chance to coach college golf again?

Kevin Williams just couldn't say "no" when Terry Holland, East Carolina's director of athletics, proposed the idea during dinner last week. Williams listened to Holland's offer and within 24 hours, he agreed to return as the women's golf coach.

Williams sent letters to Walnut Creek Country Club members announcing his resignation as the club professional. He'll assume coaching duties at ECU on July 13.

"It's a team that I started in 2000, so obviously, it's a very special program to me," said Williams. "Walnut Creek is a great place ... a wonderful facility and the members have been outstanding to work for. It's tough to leave, but at the same time, when something is close to your heart, it's hard to turn down.

Williams replaces Kim Lewellen, who left to take the head women's golf position at the University of Virginia. Lewellen guided East Carolina to the 2006 Conference USA championship and a berth in the 2006 NCAA East Regionals -- the program's third postseason appearance overall.

Before coming to Walnut Creek nearly two years ago, Williams posted 583 wins in five-plus seasons and was named CUSA coach of the year in 2003. The Lady Pirates qualified for the East Regionals in 2003 and 2005 and produced seven NCAA All-American Scholars until Williams' departure.

During his first stint, the program's most-notable alumnus -- Adrienne Millican -- had begun to make her mark on the college scene. She appeared in the 2004 NCAA Championships and after graduation, was named the Carolina Golf Association women's golfer of the year in 2006. Millican just missed qualifying for the LPGA Tour this spring.

All that success prompted Holland to beckon Williams' return.

"He wanted to do what was right ... give me the opportunity to come back and coach just one team," said Williams, a 1985 graduate of ECU. "It will be nice to be able to dedicate all my time to recruiting and developing those players. With any program at ECU, you have to overachieve.

"You want to make sure the players reach their potential and go beyond that. That will be a challenge."

Williams is anxious to put the program back in the top 10 and contend for NCAA appearances every year. And he doesn't intend to overload the roster with international players. The program is fully-funded, so that gives Williams more leverage to find quality golfers.

"I plan to focus more on golfers in North Carolina," said Williams, who signed a three-year contract. "I want to find athletic players who are not burned out on the game and want to become really good. I'm looking for a good mix of players."

Although his term ended quickly as Walnut Creek's club pro, Williams was instrumental in repairing the driving range and increasing the course's image. The Tar Heel Tour made a recent stop and the club's regular tournaments, according to Williams, set records in participation this past year.

Michael Strickland will assume Williams' duties until November. A new club pro is expected to be announced by Jan. 1.

"The opportunity to go back and coach full-time had a lot to do with my decision," said Williams. "As a club pro, you wear a lot of different hats. Everyone at Walnut Creek has been first class about everything.

"I really think the club is going in the right direction now. Whoever comes in next will inherit a very nice situation."

East Carolina already has.