Kathleen Names 2 New Hoop Coaches
Former Polk basketball standouts take over at Kathleen
Kathleen has tabbed two former Polk County high school basketball standouts to lead its boys and girls basketball teams.
Thomas Williams will lead the boys basketball team, replacing Tony Longa, and Angela (Hawkins) Freeman will take over as the girls head coach, replacing Terrence Cobb. Both Longa and Cobb resigned last month but will remain as teachers at the school. Both will receive coaching supplements of $2,055.
Williams, 31, is a 2003 graduate of Kathleen who played on the Red Devils’ 2001 state championship team for former coach Drew Taylor. He was one of more than 50 applicants for the job and one of four who were interviewed by a search committee that included athletic director Will Smith and former athletic director Gary Lineberger.
“He’s a Kathleen guy and has character to be able to build youth,” Smith said. “He had great recommendations. He’s a stand-up guy and a people person. He’s just an overall good guy, a good fit for Kathleen and somebody who wants to bring a winning tradition back here.”
Williams is finishing up his master’s degree in business management at Warner University and has been an assistant coach for the women’s team under John Dunlap, whom he played for in college for three years at Southeastern after spending one year at Seminole State. It’s been Williams’ goal ever since he got into coaching at the youth level to eventually be a head coach at a program like Kathleen.
“When I first got into coaching at the youth level with the Lakeland Fire and started working with a lot of those guys, I dreamed about the job at one point,” said Williams, who was head coach for two years at the former Sonrise Christian (now Whitestone Academy). “I officiated for four years and got away from the desire of wanting to coach, but when the Kathleen opportunity became available, those passions and desires started to come back. Plus the community wanted an alumni in there and so did the administration.”
Williams already has his coaching staff in place. Chris Richard, a high school teammate who coached under Terrence McGriff at Bartow last season, will join Williams’ staff along with another high school teammate, Kevis Parker. Current assistant Paul Clark, another Kathleen grad who is the older brother of retired Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark, will remain on staff.
Freeman, 32, taking over the girls program at Kathleen has been under consideration for the past couple of years.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of the program,” said Freeman, who has been on staff in the special education department at Kathleen for five years. “Of course, I have a passion for basketball and a passion for teaching and helping our youth. So honestly, time-frame wise with professionally building myself, the opportunity presented itself and was a good opportunity. I finished up my schooling and got my master’s degree. I got all those things in order.”
Freeman played for LeDawn Gibson at Winter Haven and graduated in 2002 after playing on the Blue Devils’ first three teams that reached the state tournament, the last two years finishing as state runner-up. She played college basketball at Indiana.
Although she wasn’t an official assistant coach, Freeman has been helping out the program informally and talked with Cobb about eventually taking over the program when the time was right.
Smith also announced that girls track coach Ledarius Haggins will take over as the boys and girls cross country coach. He added that the school is searching for a new volleyball coach.