Williard ready to accept lofty expectations

Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:59 PM

Mickey Williard knows very well what the expectations are for the Westchester Country Day baseball program.

He helped set them as a player on a state championship runner-up team as a player. He also helped maintain them as the junior varsity coach a couple years ago.

Now the program and its high expectations are his.

Williard was selected this week as the varsity head coach after Joey Hammond, who capped his six-year run with three straight state championships, stepped down to become an assistant coach at Wake Forest University.

“It’s exciting, but it’s also comforting,” said Williard, a three-year player at WCD and recent graduate of High Point University. “It’s a place I know that I’m known and there’s a lot of faith in me. And I have no doubt that our expectations will rise, rather than sink. ...

“It’s a great opportunity. It was humbling just to be in the conversation. It was also nice to have the backing from guys you’ve worked with so much – from Coach Jeff (Wilson) to Coach Mo (Blakeney) to Coach Joey. It seemed like a lot of support. And since the announcement, I haven’t heard anything but positives.”

Williard, who gives hitting lessons while he takes a break from school, played in college at Guilford and Pfeiffer before returning to HPU, where he’d spent his freshman year. He coached the junior varsity at Westchester two years ago before becoming a student assistant at HPU last year.

With his experience as a player and as a coach, he looks to continue building on the success that Hammond and the Wildcats experienced in recent years, both on the field in winning championships and off the field in shaping young men.

And such success does come with expectations. But Williard isn’t shying away from them.

“Pressure makes diamonds,” he said with a laugh. “I’m happy to step in somewhere where I have something to live up to. There’s no doubt that this team has been dominant the last couple years. And I fully expect that if we continue to do the things we preach – process before expectations – then we shouldn’t have anything else come to us. I want that pressure.”

Williard does plan to attend law school in the coming years. He knows that will be challenging, but he remains confident he can balance it with coaching. He says he’s already received support from the administration at Westchester and will address it when the time comes.

In the meantime, he has plenty to do in taking on the day-to-day duties of the head coach, such as preparing the field, while getting ready for the upcoming year and going through all the preparation during the fall and winter for the spring season. But he’s excited for the opportunity.

“I’m just ready to get started,” he said. “I can’t wait for the fall to roll around and us to get some work in. I’m a development guy. I was the same way when I played. I cared about: Did I get better that day? I want to make sure these kids get better on the field and off.

“I think we’ll do great things together. So, I can’t wait for that opportunity.”