After a 29-0 season, a Class 6A state championship and a resignation by former coach Chris Godwin, the goal for Pine Forest and its girls basketball program is simple — keep the success going.
Monday, after going through the hiring process last week, Pine Forest principal Laura Touchstone announced that Zaria Williams had been selected as the Eagles next girls basketball coach.
“I’m extremely excited to be back in Pensacola with the type of athletes and students the city has to offer,” said Williams, who holds 11 years of basketball coaching experience, and has spent time as recruiting coordinator as well as a school counselor. “I’m excited to continue the tradition that coach Godwin started.”
Godwin and Williams relationship dates back to Williams’ career as a basketball player, when Godwin (as an assistant coach at Northwest Florida State College) recruited Williams to the junior college.
“My coaching philosophy is people first, athletes second,” Williams said. “I lay good foundations for the kids. I know what they need to do both on and off the court. I think discipline is a huge part of it.”
Williams spent last season as the head coach of Walton High — a district opponent of Catholic High and West Florida High School — and has held assistant coaching jobs at the collegiate level that include Mercer University and UWF.
Last season, Williams, who is also a graduate of UWF, led Walton through an unbeaten district schedule, before losing in the district championship to West Florida.
“I think my time at Walton taught me a lot about being a head coach and prepared me to take over at Pine Forest,” Williams said. “I want to plant my roots and stay at Pine Forest an extremely long time.”
Williams will be in Pensacola as soon as Tuesday afternoon, and will begin meshing with her current players as well as her new surroundings.
“We want to keep the winning record … there are some big shoes to fill,” Touchstone said. “Williams has a very long list of accomplishments in her career playing ball, as well as her coaching stats.