The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Ben Williams Inducted 1991 - Class of 1955
Remember the movie, "Hoosiers?" In his first year as head coach, Gene Hackman was the wonder-coach who turned a team of boys into a winning group of men. Ben William's story is not unlike this movie. During his first season as head coach of Toledo Scott, he won the city championship.
Ben found himself in the city championship game again this year. Unfortunately, he did not repeat his success. Although Scott finished the season with a 10-2 record, it lost to St. Francis in the city league championship.
Currently, Ben is a teacher and has been the head boys basketball coach since 1974. During his seventeen years of coaching, his teams have won ten city championships. Ben, however, always saved space in his trophy case for a state championship award. The Scott coach finally filled the spot last year when the bulldogs won the state championship. His remarkable accomplishments netted Ben the coveted AAA Boys Basketball Coach of the Year Award in Ohio.
He has coached stars including Truman Claytor, Donald Collins, Marcus Newbern, Ken Bryd and Ken Holmes. As a coach, his teams have won 13 sectional championships and 9 district championships. Two of his players were drafted into the National Basketball Association. Eight of Scott's teams have ranked among the top ten teams in Ohio/ AAA Status while one places among the top ten teams.
Although Ben's successes are many, he does not place winning over the importance of scholarship. Since he has been the basketball coach, Ben's teams have displayed outstanding character. Ninety percent of his players continue their education in college.
Orris Tabner, Channel 11 Sportscaster said, "While building the area’s top basketball program at Scott, Ben has not let his players forget why they are in school. He not only insists on athletic achievement but on academic effort as well."
This is not always an easy task. There often is not strong parental guidance forcing his players to achieve. Ben has found that the majority of the problems facing his players are caused by peer pressure and broken homes. "Most of our boys come from broken homes. I spend more time with them than the typical coach. I have a year-round relationship with them. We try to keep basketball in perspective," Ben said. "Academic achievement and personality improvement are the most important things."
Ben spends so much time nurturing his players because he relates to their problem. While he was still an infant, his father left home and Ben did not see him again for 18 years. Young Ben was raised by his mother and grandmother.
The family moved from Mississippi to Toledo where Ben attended Gunckel and Chase schools. At WHS, he was an outstanding basketball player. Ben averaged 19 points a game his senior year and earned All-State honorable mention. Upon graduating from WHS in 1955, he attended Bowling Green State University on an athletic scholarship.
Four years later, he earned a bachelor's degree from BGSU with a major in health and physical education and a minor in biological science. Ben also obtained his Master of Education degree from BGSU and has done post-graduate work at Gannon College, Erie ,Pennsylvania; George Washington University, Washington, DC and Sir George Williams, Montreal, Canada.
In 1960, Ben worked as a Youth Director for the Booker T. Washington Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. Eight years later he was recruited by Toledo Public Schools as teacher and a coach at WHS. He stayed at his alma mater one year before transferring to Scott to become a boys' health education teacher and junior varsity basketball coach. Ben has also held positions of Chairman of the Physical Education Department, Varsity Basketball Coach and Teacher Coordinator of the Skills Center Complex.
Personally, Ben has been awarded a top teaching award from Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. The organization of educators recognized Ben for his exemplary teaching. Ben received the American Legion's Biennial Community Service Award for rendering outstanding community service. In 1981, BGSU honored Ben at the Varsity BG Club Recognition Dinner.
Perhaps the most prestigious tribute occurred last year when Scott renamed its field house after Ben. The school honored Ben with this lasting sentiment for his dedication of serving as role model and inspiration to all Scott students.
Illustrating this fact is a quote from Ben following the proclamation of the Toledo Board of Education. Speaking of his team, Ben said, "This close unit has shown what discipline, hard work and caring can do for all who wish to beat the odds."
Looking back, he could say the same thing about himself from his beginnings at WHS to his happy marriage to Aerielle, a teacher at Edgewater Elementary School. The couple's close unit is made whole by their children - Robert, Kirstie and Leah.