Charles Williams Inaugural Winner of Trailblazer Award
Charles Williams, former Hampton Institute head football coach and athletic director, has been named the inaugural winner of the American Football Coaches Association’s Trailblazer Award. The award will be presented posthumously to the Williams family at the AFCA Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, January 11 at the 2005 AFCA Convention in Louisville, Ky.
The Trailblazer Award was created as a way for the AFCA to honor a historically significant minority coach who had a profound impact on his institution, the coaching profession, student-athletes and the game of football.
It was a historic moment when Charles Williams submitted an application form, dated Dec. 27, 1922, to join the AFCA. Not only was he among the first group of formal applicants that included Knute Rockne, John Heisman, Fielding H. Yost and Dana X. Bible, he was the AFCA’s first African-American member.
Williams’ name was listed frequently in the AFCA membership rolls for 40 years. Williams’ presence at the first AFCA banquet and his early participation in AFCA activities likely served as a source of inspiration for other African-American football coaches at the time and may have prompted them to consider joining the AFCA in its formative years.
Williams earned an overall record of 23-7-1 (76.7 winning percentage) at Hampton during a time when a college team’s schedule consisted of no more than four or five games. His career as a head football coach was short, just six years (1914-17, 1919-20), but he led the Pirates to three CIAA championships. After stepping down as head coach, Williams stayed on as an assistant with the football team while also coaching the basketball team from 1912 to 1941, winning nine conference championships in that sport.
In addition to his duties as a coach, Williams also spent time as Hampton’s director of athletics, and as chairman in the physical education department. In 1953, he received the Hampton Alumni Award for meritorious achievement and in 1954, he was elected alumni representative to the Board of Trustees. In 1958, the Board of Trustees voted to name the recreation building on campus in his honor – The Charles H. Williams Gymnasium.
Williams was one of eight men from five institutions present when what is now known as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association was founded in 1912. He served as secretary-treasurer for several years and president in 1937-38. Williams was an influential leader for historically black colleges and conferences during the early part of the 20th century.
For a five-year period, the Trailblazer Award will be given to an individual who coached in a certain decade. Next year’s winner will have coached from 1930 to 1939, with the five-year cycle ending in 2009 and a winner coming from the 1960-1969 decade. In 2010, the cycle will start over with a winner coming from the decade between 1920 and 1929.