Veteran J.I. Burton boys’ basketball coach Aaron Williams is unabashedly proud of his passion for the game.
“It goes back to my father and his love of the game, I think,” said Williams.
“Being raised in Indiana, it was kind of in our DNA to compete in basketball.”
IT’S A FAMILY THING
A basketball coach for nearly three decades, Williams has been passing his love of the game to players throughout Southwest Virginia, including the past 10 years at Burton.
For the past four years, Williams has coached his son, Caleb, a senior for the Raiders this season.
“I really can’t remember a time not being in the gym with a basketball,” Caleb said.
The joy of the game has also been passed down to Williams’ daughter Maggie, who is a key player for Burton’s Lady Raiders as a sophomore.
Maggie started playing the game in the fourth grade. She stays active in extracurricular activities by playing volleyball and softball as well as basketball, along with cheering.
“I love it,” she said of her busy schedule.
Williams’ youngest daughter, Sarah, is also a hoops player in Norton’s youth league.
Lots of family discussions revolve around basketball.
So do family vacations.
“We try to make them educational,” Williams said quickly when Caleb and Maggie said each vacation itinerary almost always includes an NBA game.
“We try to find a museum or something to make it educational. And then at least one NBA game,” the coach said with a grin.
“I’ve got three kids and they’re all different,” the coach said. “And, I hope they know, I love them no matter what they do.”
But basketball is a bond for the Williams siblings and their dad and mom.
“THE REAL HERO”
Heather Williams, wife to Aaron for 20 years and mom to Caleb, Maggie and Sarah, is the glue that holds the family together when there are long nights at the basketball court instead of in the living room.
“We don’t get to eat a lot of meals at home,” she said. “We spend a lot of our time in a gym somewhere.”
The ironic thing about the Williams family dynamic is that Heather was not that much of a sports fan.
She readily admits she got cut from the basketball team when she was in high school and she was alright with that.
Until she met and married Aaron, she rarely, if ever, even went to a sporting event.
“I never went to a basketball game until I married Aaron,” she said. “Now, I’ve been to every one of them for 20 years.”
“Heather is the real hero,” Williams said. “She keeps everything running smooth and takes care of the family.”
“It’s just something that we do and we just do what has to be done. It’s difficult at times, but it’s just what we do,” said Heather. “We never stop. But it’s good.”