The end of an era is in sight at White River High, where Mike Williams has announced the coming season will be his last as skipper of the Hornet baseball program.
Williams has spent nearly two decades at the helm of the Hornet baseball program he once played for.
He is a White River alum, having graduated in 1984 before heading off to play baseball at Big Bend Community College and Central Washington University. He returned home and coached the White River Middle School team to a championship in 1988 and headed the White River High program in 1989. He then made stops in Yelm and Enumclaw before taking over the White River program for good in 1997.
“I owe a great deal of debt to Keith Banks for hiring me in 1989 as a 23-year-old head coach. That’s what got me started,” Williams wrote in an email. He also reserves praise for Jim Meyerhoff, a former White River athletic director “for taking me aside and giving me some advice.”
During his 19 years as a head coach Williams has built a record of 221-184 and led his teams to 15 playoff appearances, four league championships and two appearances in the state tournament.
Despite the numbers and accolades – he has been league Coach of the Year five times – Williams chooses to defer to those who helped turn around the Hornet diamond program.
He singled out the following for their impact on the baseball program:
• James Congdon, a longtime manager during his high school career.
• Jon Verde, who once played all nine positions in a game for White River. “He was a trooper that bought in to what I was trying to accomplish.”
• Jason Parlari, a Hornet wrestler that had never played baseball, but turned out for baseball his senior year because he had been Williams’ student assistant. “(He) was an outstanding teammate and is a friend to this day.”
• Butch Loney, who had two boys in the baseball program, ran White River’s first booster club. “Had zero hidden agenda and was a great, positive supporter.”
• The entire 1989 team. “They established the foundation for how we were going to play the game and it has carried through ’til today. Hard nosed, scrappy, underdogs, tough kids that don’t make excuses.”
• Tim Kolisch, a “crafty pitcher and shortstop who was the epitome of a friend and teammate.”
The White River baseball program has grown and become successful, Williams said, due to the help of many assistants who not only coached, but helped build fields and did everything from painting to raking.
Among those supporters, Williams cites Ron Balmer, Gaylen Hahto, Kevin Alfano, Jer Argo, Bob Brooks, Cody Mothershead, Scott Campbell, Connor Williams, Jeff Emerson, Brady Vanhoof, Jeremy Curtin, John Schumacher. Troy Rasmussen, Troy Stroud and Ryan Manowski.
Under the heading of “impact players” during his time as Hornet skipper, Williams rattles off an impressive list:
Kyle Nearhood, Joe and Jeff Sprouse, Jason Osborne, Paul Weed, Jesse McClung,Brad Addink, AJ Huttenlocker, Jason Erickson, Cody Ryckman, Payden Cawley-Lamb, Connor Williams, Dustin Stroud, Tanner Williams, Cole Johnson, TrevorLubking, Zach Rohrbach and Riley Johnson.