Boys basketball: Liberty Ranch coach Williams resigns

Liberty Ranch coach Josh Williams celebrates after his team's win over West Campus during their San Joaquin Section Division 4 play-off game in Lodi Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

Josh Williams has brought Liberty Ranch’s boys basketball program numerous accolades in his seven years as head coach.

But on Thursday, Williams tendered his resignation to principal Joe Saramago, citing the desire to spend more time with his family. Williams, who will stay at the school as a physical education teacher, broke the news to his players on Monday.

“From a family standpoint, it was pretty clear to me,” Williams said. “I love my wife and my girls, and when I first started coaching, I had one child and one on the way, and before I knew it I had three girls. The dynamic changed drastically in a hurry from that point, and I felt it was most likely a matter of time before they would need more of my time.”

Williams took over the program from Mike Turpin in its third season of varsity play, and took the Hawks to a 23-10 record in his first season at the helm. In seven years, he compiled a 174-47 record (60-14 in Sierra Valley Conference play), turning Liberty Ranch into one of the most successful public-school programs in the section.

His run included four consecutive SVC championships (2016 through ’19), two section championship appearances (2015 and ’19), five consecutive NorCal Regional Playoff appearances (2015 through ’19) and one NorCal Regional semifinal appearance (2018).

“Basketball is a 365-day endeavor, and at this point in my life I don’t have that kind of time to commit with a young and growing family,” Williams wrote in his resignation letter. “I have earned seven coach of the year awards in seven seasons; it’s time for me to work on being father of the year.”

Liberty Ranch athletic director Anthony Linebaugh said it would be bittersweet to see Josh leave the position.

“Happy for Josh because we know how much time is involved, and excited for him because he’s a father and a husband,” Linebaugh said. “He’s looking forward to spending more time with his kids. We’re happy that he’s staying around on campus.”

Linebaugh said the search for a replacement would go through the normal channels, with a process through the district human resources department to post the position.

“Obviously, Josh has been extremely instrumental in the success of our program,” he said. “It’s going to require someone who’s very talented as a teacher, as a mentor, who understand what take a toll on a student athlete’s time. We’re looking for someone who can be a positive leader in the lives of the members of our program. It will be a daunting task.”

Linebaugh wouldn’t say if the replacement would be an off-campus coach, or if there would be a teaching position on campus as well.

Williams said “never say never” to the possibility of being involved in the program in some capacity, but more as an advice guy rather than being intimately involved.

Meanwhile, he sees several outlets for his competitive side, one being his kids, ages 9, 7, and 5, who are involved in swimming and basketball — and even with events such as the spelling bee, he finds himself taking the role of coach with his children, helping them with words and spelling. The other outlet is his personal fitness, which he said has always driven his competitive side.

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