Xavier’s Alfred Williams philosophical, patient, prideful on state of social justice and faith
AJ Williams of Xavier philosophical, patient, prideful on state of social justice and faith (Ken Trahan)
The tradition of Xavier Gold Rush basketball is golden.
Xavier has won many Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championships and has made many NAIA National Tournaments. This year would have been one of those years before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and canceled the postseason.
A former All GCAC player at Xavier, AJ Williams is doing a superb job at his alma mater.
Williams received richly deserved GCAC Coach of the Year honors this past season in his fourth year as head coach and his 11th on the basketball staff. His future is very bright, as is the future of the Gold Rush program.
What Williams hops to see is a great future for his players and for African-Americans in the United States, given the anger and hurt from what has transpired in society over a long period of time. How does Williams channel and curb the anger?
“It’s challenging,” Williams said. “I’m not going to lie to you. Mentoring young African-American males between 18 to 25, trying to influence them with positive information to help them be well equipped for the real world is definitely a challenging task. It is the task that we were presented with that God wants us with and I think it’s a huge responsibility in definitely preparing your young men just to be equipped with the necessary tools. I believe in transparency.
“Once you kind of help them understand through the different lenses how people are perceived of our African-American males, I’m just trying to help them be mindful of the day-to-day, how they need to carry themselves and just prepare when they walk out that door. It’s definitely some uncomfortable conversations but it is one that is definitely needed in our climate, for sure.”
Williams has a simple, solid philosophy in how he approaches his players and their approach to society.
“I just believe in the love that you spread is the love that you are going to get in return,” Williams said. “We just try to make sure with our players, we just try to get them to love one another and to just treat people the way you want to be treated. Just the old school values that I was raised on and I try to deliver to my team to make sure that if you don’t know anything else, you’re going to know how to love one another, you’re going to treat people with respect and you’re going to work hard. Those are some of the qualities we definitely live by in our program.”
Williams is very proud of what his players are accomplishing on the court and off the court.
“We’ve been able to put out some quality young men who are doing some amazing things right now,” Williams said. “We have one young man who had an internship with 3M, he just accepted a job with 3M. We have another young man who did an internship with Microsoft and he’s just accepted a job with Microsoft. Through all the challenges, you still continue to do the work and just work hard every day and hopefully, the results show out of that.”
Williams has experienced more than an unfair share of discrimination in his lifetime.
“It happens frequently,” Williams said. “I try to defuse the situation by speaking first and just having an inviting personality that people feel comfortable. It’s not right, by any means. I’m six-three and a half, I’m tall, I have a little weight on me so sometimes, people get intimidated by me. I just try to treat people the way I want to be treated. Sometimes, people walk by and don’t speak. I speak just to break the ice. I’ve had my challenges and some discrimination as far as the way I look and my stature and everything. All you can do is pray for them and do what you’re called to do and leave it in the Lord’s hand.”
While Williams is patient and tries to deal with bad treatment with kindness, he strongly believes that if offended, you must speak up and speak faith, which he teaches his players.
“It does no good to bottle it up to keep it to yourself,” Williams said. “I try to motivate and give them tools that weren’t afforded to me, that I just give them some information and nuggets along my way to kind of help them along the journey because I know it’s going to be hard and some people are not going to see what you see but just stick with it and continue to put the work in. We speak faith every day. You’ve got to put it out there. It makes no sense to hold it in.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…