Williams to be posthumously inducted into Georgia Sports HOF

Jan. 24—Bert Williams was already a legend locally as well as among the junior college athletics ranks, but that status is about to be cemented even further.

The former Georgia Military College head football coach and athletic director emeritus will be posthumously inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame as part of the hall's "Legends" Class of 2023 next month. Williams passed away Aug. 2, 2021, at 52 years old following a courageous 20-month battle with mantle cell lymphoma. He is survived by his wife Cathy and their two sons, Parker and Zach.

An Augusta native, Williams first came to Milledgeville to serve as the GMC offensive coordinator in 1997 before accepting the head coaching position in 2000. It did not take long for the program to reach new heights under his leadership. In 2001, the Bulldogs won the NJCAA National Championship, which stands as the team's only national title to this day. GMC finished as national runner-up two other times in Williams' tenure, and he was three times named NJCAA National Coach of the Year.

Williams was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in late 2019. He would go on to formally retire from GMC in November 2020 to focus on his fight against cancer. Williams' coaching record at the time of his retirement stood at 156-58, but his contributions extended past the football field.

As athletic director, he expanded GMC athletics from one program (football) to nine sports total between men's and women's offerings. Back in his own arena, more than 430 GMC football players signed on to four-year schools with 298 earning Division I scholarships and 37 advancing all the way to the National Football League.

While seeing players move on to larger institutions and the professional ranks was certainly a goal of the GMC football program under Williams, it wasn't the only goal.

"The No. 1 thing I really get the biggest kick out of is seeing our guys go on and do well," Williams said at his November 2020 retirement ceremony. "I don't necessarily mean NFL and major college football. We've had plenty do that, and I'm very proud of them, but there are so many of our young men that break the cycle. They come up in a tough way, maybe without a father figure... but they break the cycle and become great husbands, fathers and members of their community out there making a difference. That means more to me than anything in all honesty just to think that maybe I had a little bit to do with that in helping them figure things out and get them on their way."

Williams is being inducted in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in the "Legends" category, an honor bestowed upon deserving individuals who were not inducted into the Hall of Fame in their lifetimes. Those joining Williams as Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Legends this year are former West Laurens High School, Georgia Tech, and NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Steve Webber, the winningest coach in UGA baseball history.

The Class of 2023 will be honored the weekend of Feb. 24-25 with the formal induction set for Saturday, Feb. 25, inside Macon City Auditorium.

This will actually be Williams' second time being recognized by the Georgia Sports Hall. In May 2021 he received the Hall's J.B. Hawkins Humanitarian Award, which is given annually to individuals who have distinguished themselves through significant and meaningful contributions to sports in the state of Georgia.