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The beat goes on at Northampton-West

GASTON – 27 years.

That’s how long Jerome Williams has coached basketball at Northampton County High School – West.

But Williams’ coaching expertise does not stop on the court; it extends to the gridiron as well, as Williams is a defensive line coach for head coach Diego Hasty’s football team.

One of the keys to having such an extended coaching tenure such as Williams’ is running a clean system, where the students not only play basketball, but graduate as well.

In his 27 years of coaching, Williams, known throughout the area as &uot;Coach Jerome&uot;, graduated all but one of his basketball players.

&uot;To accomplish that you have to be very disciplined and not let the kids get away with anything,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We try not to focus on wins and losses as much and more on graduating and being good citizens.&uot;

Williams learned this sense of discipline from one of his coaching role models in Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

&uot;I went to a lot of Coach K’s coaching clinics over the years,&uot; Williams said. &uot;I’ve learned a lot there and have tried to put it into action.&uot;

Williams said he tries to make his basketball players play football because it gets them in shape and toughens them up.

&uot;When I tell them to do something, they’ll listen,&uot; he said with a down-to-business tone and look.

Williams preaches the same thing to both of his teams – toughness.

&uot;I want my players to have the same kind of character in both sports – be tough and mean,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We want our players to be mean, but keep their mouths closed.&uot;

Hasty said that Williams is effective in getting his message across as they all respond to him.

&uot;He has a great status among all of the students because of his great communication,&uot; Hasty said. &uot;He gets the best out of them and has been a great help to me as well as the entire athletic program.&uot;

Williams believes that having effective relationships among the school’s coaches is a necessity for the athletic department.

&uot;You have to let each coach do their job and listen to each need,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We have had little fights but we always work it out in the end.&uot;

One of the challenges of being a smaller school in a relatively uncharted area for college scouts is getting the players publicity.

Williams said that the key to getting his players seen is making the playoffs.

&uot;We have a great athletic program, but for college coaches to see our players we need to make the playoffs,&uot; Williams said.

He also notes that camps have played a big part in his player publicity as he has brought players to East Carolina and other colleges for scouts to see them.

&uot;Camps are crucial for us especially, because a 6’5 guy in our system would play center, but for most colleges in the country he would be a guard,&uot; Williams said. &uot;The camps allow players to feel what the competition would be like in college.&uot;

But right now its football season, and during the gridiron campaign Williams puts his assistant coaches in charge of the basketball team.

&uot;I don’t focus at all on basketball right now,&uot; Williams said. &uot;Football season is football season, not basketball, and we’re ready to play some football.&uot;