Coaching boys high school basketball had been one of Jackson Williams’ goals since the sixth grade.
Getting the call four months after his 19th birthday was more than even he expected.
Williams, a Franklin College sophomore who plays men’s golf for the Grizzlies, recently put the wraps on his first season as the junior varsity basketball coach at Greenwood Christian Academy.
The Cougars’ JV team just completed an 18-4 season, and Williams was on the varsity bench Tuesday as Greenwood Christian lost its first-round Class A sectional game against Providence Cristo Rey.
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“I’ve always said I wanted to be a teacher and a coach,” said Williams, a secondary social studies education major. “I thought this would be a fun step, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.
“I enjoy the kids, the level of basketball, and the school is just awesome.”
Williams is a 2017 Center Grove graduate, and the man he works for, Greenwood Christian head coach Jonny Marlin, also graduated from Center Grove — albeit six years earlier.
Shortly after Marlin was named the Cougars’ coach in early April, his first order of business was to put together a staff.
His father, longtime AAU coach Tony Marlin, was an obvious choice as the Cougars’ varsity assistant. However, he also needed someone he could trust to coach the junior varsity squad.
Williams, about to start his first collegiate spring golf season, was the obvious choice.
“Jackson was actually the first person we thought of,” Jonny Marlin said. “If you know Jackson at all, he might be 20 years old, but he’s really 25 or older. He’s been that way as long as I’ve known him, and I’ve known him his whole life.”
Marlin let it be known early that Williams’ academics and golf at Franklin College took precedence over any activities related to Greenwood Christian basketball.
Williams and his golf teammates are preparing for their first spring competition, the Franklin College Invitational next weekend in French Lick.
“Jackson playing golf never concerned me. I felt that any conflict would be worth it,” Marlin said. “He is very calm on the sidelines, and he sees the whole picture.”
Third-year Franklin College men’s golf coach Curt Holcroft is impressed with Williams’ ability to focus on the present and future at the same time.
“I’m trying to create good young adults more than I am good golfers,” Holcroft said. “This is something Jackson has wanted to be part of, so I’m like, ‘Go at it.’ I have another kid in my program who coaches, too.”
Grizzlies senior Spencer Portish served this past girls basketball season as the junior varsity coach at Southwestern (Shelby) High School.
The calm Williams exhibits while coaching plays a big role in his success on the golf course. During Franklin College’s fall season, he averaged a team-best 18-hole score of 74.30 and is expected to enter the spring as Holcroft’s No. 1 player.
Jackson Williams said it’s not far-fetched to believe he’ll follow in his dad’s footsteps.
His father, Jim, is the girls golf coach and former boys golf coach at Center Grove. The elder Williams also coaches middle school boys basketball in the Center Grove school system each winter.
He can envision himself one day teaching middle- or high-school social studies and perhaps doubling as a high school’s basketball and golf coach.
“That’s the goal. I would say my coaching is a mixture of who I am, years of watching my dad coach and knowing what I wanted as a player,” Williams said. “I really enjoy it at GCA and would like to come back.”