University of South Dakota head women’s basketball coach Amy Williams’ energy is contagious. Her energy rubs off on an attack-minded team that is 10th in the nation in scoring.
“She has a lot of energy,” said assistant coach Chuck Love. “I think that’s what our team feeds off of.”
Junior guard Tia Hemiller can see the passion, too.
“Before games she always gets us fired up,” Hemiller said. “She’s just so passionate. She watches film all the time and she’s just so dedicated, and we just really respect her as a coach.”
For Williams, it’s something she said she’s had from birth.
“I think it comes naturally,” the third-year coach said about the origin of her energy. “I have a lot of energy and passion.”
Williams has always had passion for the sport of basketball, even as a part of the 30/30 club at the University of Lincoln-Nebraska, where if the Huskers were up 30 or down 30, she got 30 seconds of playing time.
“It didn’t matter if I was sitting at the end of the bench as a player or now leading a program,” Williams said. “I’m still excited for players when they make great plays. I have high expectations and that energy comes naturally.”
Williams said she catches some heat from her team for her extensive supply of energy.
“I actually had a former (player) of mine that recorded me acting like a fool on the sideline on a TV game, and sent it to everybody on the team and it was going around the bus and they were hooting and hollering about that,” Williams said. “I guess I thought there was a travel that was missed so I gestured to (an) official rather nicely.”
Behind its high scoring, high energy offense, USD boasts a 16-5 overall record. In the Summit League, the Coyotes are 6-2 and are first place in the conference.
During games, Williams said she enters a sort of zone on the sideline, where she can occasionally be seen jumping in her trademark high heels.
“I don’t believe people when they tell me I jump on the sideline,” Williams said. “I just don’t feel myself doing that. I guess sometimes you have the out-of-body experience.”
Although she doesn’t realize it during the games, she sees evidence of her leaping ability when she studies the game tape.
“Sometimes I see myself on film acting crazy,” Williams said. “It’s a little embarrassing, but you just have to roll with the punches.”
The fans love Williams nonetheless, which was apparent when she walked onto the floor before the South Dakota State game Jan. 17 and the fans went wild with applause.
“That’s our time to really lock in, and it’s the fun part,” Williams said about games and the crowd that comes with it.
Williams’ intensity and energy comes with one small adverse effect.
“When she gets pretty upset, she’s broken some markers,” Love said. “So we as assistant coaches ought to have to be prepared and have those markers ready for when she breaks them.”
Even though Williams’ players might poke fun at her, they still carry a high amount of respect for their head coach.
“We have so much respect for her as a coach,” said senior guard Raeshel Contreras. “Whenever she wants something done, we take it like we’re going to get it done.”
Contreras has a deep admiration for Williams.
“It’s a connection we all have with her, and it’s deep,” Contreras said. “She’s something special.”
Hemiller said Williams is to be credited with the Coyotes’ success.
“Whatever she says, we are right on track with her,” Hemiller said. “She’s just really respectable, and she helps us get where we need to be.
That respect for her comes from the players knowing she has their best interests at heart.
“She is a player’s coach, and they believe in her,” Love said. “They know she’s not just going to scream at them for no reason.”
(Photo: University of South Dakota head women’s basketball coach Amy Williams analyzes the court during the Coyotes’ 93-70 win against Oral Roberts at home Jan. 31. Austin Ashlock / The Volante)