• Fort Osage community recalls late coach

  • A day after his death, former Fort Osage High School girls basketball coach Dale Williams was remembered as a great coach and person.

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  • A day after his death, former Fort Osage High School girls basketball coach Dale Williams was remembered as a great coach and person.
    Fort Osage will honor Williams, who died Wednesday at age 76, at 5:15 p.m. tonight in the gymnasium before the start of the girls-boys basketball doubleheader against William Chrisman High School.
    Williams fell and broke his hip on New Year’s Day and his health deteriorated after the fall. He had been treated at a hospice recently.
    “Dale was a one of a kind coach,” Fort Osage activities director Brandon Hart said of Williams, who had a 328-175 girls basketball record during a 20-year coaching career (1987-2007, he missed one season following a liver transplant). “When I was a first-year activities director, I was green as a hickory stick, and I really got a kick out of being around Coach Williams. He kept things lively.”
    Williams underwent a liver transplant in 1996 and a kidney transplant in 2011.
    “As his assistant for years,” said former Indians guard and assistant coach Lindsay Thompson, who is now the head girls basketball coach at William Chrisman, “I would disagree with some decisions he was making, plays he was calling, kids he was playing, et cetera.
    “He would argue with me and he would always tell me that when I had my own team I could do what I want. Well, my first practice as a brand new coach at Chrisman, I walked into the gym and there is Coach sitting in a chair at half court. Of course, I teared up and hugged him. He told me, ‘Just wanted to see all of these fantastic changes you always wanted to make.’
    “He sat in that chair every day for the next week. Finally, he told me I would be OK on my own and left. He still came in periodically, but I knew at that point that I had graduated from the Coach Williams school of thought.”
    Dawn Williams, who is not related, replaced Dale Williams as the head coach six years ago.
    “I came to Fort Osage and didn’t know Coach or play for Coach, but he gave me the chance to coach the girls eighth grade team with Lindsay and eventually I had the chance to coach the varsity team. I remember going to a coaching clinic in St. Louis with him and we had all our assistant coaches, including Lindsay, and the girls wanted to go to Laclede’s Landing.
    “We knew Coach had rented the car in his name, so we told him we were going to take a cab. At 10 p.m., after the clinic ended, he called and said he was waiting for us. He wasn’t going to let him girls go out in a cab.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It was about a 20-minute drive to the Landing, but it was raining and Coach got lost and about two and a half hours later we were wet and just drove back to the hotel.”
    Williams’ career record, including boys and girls basketball, was 548-323. He also coached the girls at North Kansas City at schools in Iowa and Kansas. He was a member of the Greater Kansas City Basketball Association Hall of Fame, Baker University Hall of Fame and Missouri State Sports Hall of Fame. He was a 12-time conference coach of the year, two-time Examiner Coach of the Year and the 1994-95 Kansas City Sports Connection Coach of the Year.
    One of his former players, Stacy Litchfield, said Williams deserved all his accolades.
    “Coach Williams was one of my favorite people and an extremely motivational coach to many people,” she said. “Being part of the first team of young women he coached when he came to Fort Osage High School was a real honor for me and he made a big difference in my life, how I played the game of basketball. Many of the lessons he taught through the game have stayed with me into my adult life – set goals, work hard, make a difference.”

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