By Christopher Lynn for The Tennessean
Kirk Williams is stepping down as Greenbrier High School football coach after helming the program for the past 18 years.
The longtime coach told his players on Thursday afternoon about his decision, which he attributed to health reasons.
“There comes a time when every coach knows that it’s time to step down,” Williams said. “For me, it was because of health reasons, but no matter the reason, it’s the right time for me and the program and that’s what matters most.”
Informing the school administrators and his players on Thursday made for difficult conversations because he is going to miss everything, Williams said.
“I’m going to miss practices the most because that was a time that we really got to work with our young men,” he said.
The end of Williams’ tenure at Greenbrier caps off a 33-year coaching career.
“That’s something I’m going to truly miss,” Williams said. “I was blessed 18 years ago to have the best coaching staff a coach could have and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best coaching minds ever since. I will truly miss that camaraderie I had each day with the coaches and our players, but I know this is the right move for me right now.”
Williams started his coaching career in 1983 as an assistant football coach at Greenbrier High School, where he also served as a baseball coach for eight years. After 10 years, Williams accepted the offensive coordinator position at Springfield High School, a position he held for five years. The Yellow Jackets won the state championship during his stint with the team.
In 1998, Williams returned to Greenbrier as the head coach of the football team, leading the Bobcats to the state championship game in 2004.
Greenbrier Principal Dr. Katie Osborne and her staff will be conducting a nationwide for Williams’ replacement immediately.
“Coach Williams is a class act,” Osborne said. “He’s been an amazing mentor to our students and our other coaches, but as principal, what stuck out to me the most was that he always did the right thing.
“I’ve never had to worry about a problem with our football team because I knew that Coach Williams was doing things the right way and because of that, our boys also conducted themselves in that same manor. As principal, my primary concern is for his health, so I understand why he’s stepping down, but he will truly be missed by everyone here at Greenbrier.”
Greenbrier and White House have been rivals on the field for years, but Blue Devils coach Jeff Porter counted himself as one of Williams’ best friends off the field.
“He called me as soon as he made his decision and I was sorry to hear that he was stepping down, but understood why,” Porter said. “Kirk is one of the classiest people I’ve ever known and this will be a great loss to our profession.
“He’s given a lot of himself to his team and the community as a whole, and if I had a son I would want him to play for Kirk because he always did things the right way. We go back a long way, more than 30 years, coaching against each other, so I count myself lucky to be able to call myself one of his friends.”