June 5, 2009
The East Webster High School softball program didn''t have to look far to find a replacement for coach Bill Brand.
Former East Webster High fast-pitch softball coach Dallas Ferguson and assistant football and fast-pitch softball coach Ken Williamson were recently named to replace Brand as the school''s slow-pitch and fast-pitch coaches.
Brand stepped down last month as the school''s girls basketball and slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball coach to become East Webster High''s principal. The school is still looking for a new girls basketball coach.
The decision to hire Ferguson and Williamson allows East Webster to provide a seamless transition between coaches.
Williamson, whose daughter, Caitlyn, was a senior on this year''s state championship fast-pitch softball team, said he is excited to step into a head coaching position at a school that has had so much athletic success.
"The kids right now seem to know what it takes and how to get there and they''re fun to coach," Williamson said. "They work hard and their expectations are high. The community also expects a lot out of them, and they expect a lot out of the coaches, and that all follows to the field."
Williamson has spent the past two seasons as defensive coordinator for the East Webster High football team and as an assistant fast-pitch softball coach to Brand. He said his football duties would have made it extremely difficult for him to coach both softball teams, and that he is excited to work with Ferguson, who helped East Webster earn its first two fast-pitch titles.
Williamson said Ferguson will be an assistant coach for the fast-pitch team.
Williamson has been involved in coaching for 25 years. He spent 16 years as a coach of a host of sports at East Oktibbeha High before moving to East Webster.
Williamson has spent much of his time as a coach immersed in fast-pitch softball. He said he loves the game and is anxious to do what he can to help East Webster build on its tradition of excellence.
"We have a good, young group of ninth- and 10th-graders coming up who are very athletic, and we have a good group of young pitchers," Williamson said. "The community support on a scale of 1-10 is a 12. There are a lot of things that are happening. We''re trying to get a new building built for girls athletics. It is all done by the parents. Being involved in that type of atmosphere makes it exciting to be a part of, too, and it keeps the coaches focused because they know the expectations are high."
Brand helped East Webster win its third and fourth Class 1A state fast-pitch titles in a row. Led by a five-player senior class, East Webster defeated Smithville last month to win its fourth fast-pitch championship title in a row.
Brand also coached the slow-pitch softball team, which lost to Stringer in the semifinals of the Class 1A South Half playoffs, and the girls basketball team, which lost in the semifinals of the Class 1A South Half playoffs, this season.
Ferguson, who is a elementary school physical education teacher, stepped down as East Webster''s fast-pitch softball coach to spend more time with her daughters, who are now 9 and 7 years old. She said "it''s time" to get back into coaching in part because she and her kids always seem to be at the school watching softball games.
"My girls are a little bigger now and it works out with my family," Ferguson said. "They want me to do it and I want to do it, so I am back in it and excited to be there. I am excited to work with coach Kenny."
Ferguson, like Williamson, has worked with many of the East Webster softball players. She said the program has "been blessed" to have had as many talented and dedicated student-athletes as it has had in recent years.
She believes the next group of East Webster High softball players will be ready to accept the challenge of being a state champion.
"We have kids who can step up defensively, but the key is our hitting," Ferguson said. "I think our defense is going to be OK, but we have a couple of spots we have to fill. We have had a bull''s eye on our backs the past four years, but I don''t know if anyone is expecting a bunch from us losing five seniors. I think we have kids who will go in there and surprise some people."