‘They are the ones doing it’

By John Frierson
staff writer

It hasn’t felt this way in a long time kendellwilliams starred on the Georgia track and field show. From 2014 to 2017, she won every NCAA indoor pentathlon national championship (the first person to win four in a row) and from 2015 to 2017, she won three consecutive NCAA outdoor heptathlon titles.

Williams is undoubtedly one of the greatest student athletes in Georgia history. Now, after placing fifth in the heptathlon at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, she is in graduate school and works in the athletics department as a graduate assistant in the development office.

“Sometimes it feels like it’s been a long time, but other times it feels like it was there yesterday,” said Williams, a two-time Olympian who last month won a bronze medal in the pentathlon at the world indoor championships in Serbian. “Sometimes I can’t believe that 2017, when I graduated from my bachelor’s degree, was so many years ago.”

As a student-athlete, Williams said, he knew the money for his scholarship came from somewhere, and he knew the money for the Indoor Athletic Facility (Williams spoke on behalf of the student-athletes at the opening ceremony) came from somewhere. , but she did not know what happened to raise that money.

“It’s great now to work behind the scenes and see how all of that is possible,” Williams said. “I’m going to speak to the donors who contribute just for the good of our student-athletes and donate to the sports they love and just to advance UGA athletics. I think it’s great to be on this side because as a student-athlete, I never really knew where it came from.

“It’s been really interesting to watch the process and meet the people who really make a difference in UGA athletics.”

During the 2021-22 seasons, Georgia has 552 student-athletes. While on National Student-Athlete Day we celebrate them and all the work they do on and off the field, court, track and beyond, we also celebrate the many former Georgia student-athletes who work within the UGA Athletic Association to help bring out the best in our current Bulldogs.

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There are more than 40 former Bulldogs working in a variety of jobs within the Georgia athletic department, from head coaches like smart kirby (football) to Assistant Athletic Director stephanie ransom (Georgia’s first All-American football player), to men’s tennis who has three former players who coach the team in the head coach Manuel Diazassociate head coach jamie hunt and volunteer assistant Will Reynolds.

With the recent hiring of the former Lady Bulldog Katie Abrahamson-Henderson as the new women’s basketball coach, six of Georgia’s head coaches are former UGA student-athletes: Smart, Abrahamson-Henderson, Diaz, Jack Bauerle (swimming and diving), Courtney Kupet Carter (gymnastics) and Jeff Wallace (women’s tennis). Bauerle, Diaz and Wallace have each been coaching their respective teams for more than 30 years and have won multiple national championships.

robert miles he came to Georgia as a football player in the late 1970s, earned a scholarship, and was a starting defensive end on the Bulldogs’ 1980 national championship team. In his decades working in the athletic department, from serving as assistant athletic director and working in academic advising to his current position as director of the CHAMPS/Life Skills program, he has served Georgia’s current student-athletes in a variety of ways. .

Miles has also watched multiple generations of Bulldogs wear red and black, go through the ups and downs of being a student athlete, and grow as people, students, and athletes during their time in Georgia. When Miles ran into the former Georgia wide receiver and current passing game coordinator Bryan McClendon the other day, he said, he immediately thought of Bryan’s father, Willie, who was a great running back for Bulldogs and the SEC Player of the Year in 1978.

“Willie was a great teammate and a good friend of mine,” Miles said. “I often see and work with the children or grandchildren of former student-athletes, and it’s humbling to be in my position and have those fond memories and have those relationships with first-, second- and even third-generation students.” -Athletes.”

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Like all Georgia staff members, Miles strives to build relationships with student-athletes that extend far beyond his time competing for the Bulldogs.

“One of our former student-athletes recently sent me a photo to show me that she is expecting a child,” he said. “That was like, wow, this is something else. You get something like that and you’re like, I’m glad I meant something to her, she even thought of me when she first found out she was starting a family.” I feel like I’m part of her family.”

Ray Lamb was not only a great high school football coach at Georgia State, but he also worked with the UGA football program as a high school relations coordinator for almost 20 years. now his granddaughter Lyndi Rae Davis is a freshman on the Georgia softball team.

“I saw him the other day and he’s all dizzy because his granddaughter is up here playing softball,” Miles said.

For Davis, who grew up in an extended family full of football players and coaches, he likes that he went his own way and ended up playing softball in Georgia.

“It’s great though, because I’m the first woman in my family to be a Division I athlete,” she said during a quick chat earlier this season. “They’re all soccer players and they all did a good job, and it’s great to have my own path in the world of softball.”

Stephanie Williams-Moreno a 28-time All-American swimmer at Georgia and helped the women’s program win NCAA titles in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Since returning to the program as coach a decade ago, and now serving as associate head coach, Williams Moreno has helped guide the women to three more NCAA crowns, in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

As a coach, Williams Moreno just wants to see the men and women of Georgia do their best in everything they do.

“I always tell kids, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t compare yourself to other people. Just go out there and do your best, and no matter what happens, it will happen,'” he said.

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And when they reach or exceed their goals, it’s a wonderful and often emotional experience.

“It’s a roller coaster of emotions. And when they win titles or get (personal records) or make an A final instead of a B final, you feel very proud for them. We create that environment for them, but they are the ones who are doing,” Williams Moreno said.

“You’re like a father to the 60 of them that we have and when they can do amazing things, you just stand a little taller.”

kendellwilliamsDevelopment work time ends this week. She will be moving to Jacksonville, Florida, to train with her former Georgia coach, Petros Kyprianou, for the big competitions this summer. She will return to Athens in the fall to finish her master’s degree in public relations.

She came to Georgia with modest expectations and became a seven-time NCAA champion, winner of the Honda Sports Award in 2017 as the top female track and field competitor in the country, and competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics after her junior year, her experience as a Bulldog student-athlete was miles and miles beyond anything she ever imagined.

“I had a great time in Georgia. I met a lot of great people, both athletes and people who worked in UGA athletics, and got to do some really cool stuff,” he said. “I had an amazing time, an amazing four and a half years as a student-athlete there.

“I wish I could go back and relive it over and over again. I would probably live it exactly the same way just because I enjoyed it so much. That’s why it’s been great to work on athletics a little bit now because it’s given me so much and it’s kind of my little payment if I could ever pay back something like what Georgia gave me.
 

Deputy Director of Sports Communication John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. He can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles Y @ITAHallofFame.