LaGrange native Carla Williams an institution at UGA
Those who have been on the scene during the Andy Landers era and are familiar with Georgia’s Senior Woman Administrator usually make reference to her by including her maiden name, Carla Green Williams.
By any name or in any era at Georgia, the versatile Williams has been an accomplished contributor to Bulldog athletics as a player, coach, and administrator for over 21 years. One of her many assets as a player was her leadership skills. She was always setting a good example for her teammates and subsequently has done the same as a coach and administrator to student athletes. Some things never change, which is why she remains an MVP-type administrator for the University of Georgia Athletic Association.
A dominant and productive player for the Lady Dawgs basketball team, Carla Green Williams developed an emotional attachment to the University of Georgia in the era of Larry Munson and Herschel Walker. Her late father, Barner Green, was a football fan and was always listening to Larry Munson’s call of the games on Saturday afternoons. He always invited his daughter to listen with him, which brought about Carla’s great affection for the Bulldogs.
Those times with her father and the Bulldog broadcasts were so influential that when she made the decision on choosing a college to play basketball (she narrowed it down to Georgia, Auburn, and Alabama), she could not pass on signing with her “first love.” Choosing Georgia meant that she had to turn down Lois Myers, her high school coach, whom she adored and to whom she owed so much, who had taken over the women’s program at Alabama.
She has a photo of her, her father, and Munson and takes it out periodically and recalls her growing-up days in LaGrange. Those were the days of developing and expansive options for women athletes. Title IX decreed that schools throughout the county had to provide equal opportunity and resources for women’s sports. Carla Green’s timing was extraordinary. There was an interesting confluence that brought about a propitious circumstance in her life. First, she grew up 110 steps from a local community center where there was a gym, a swimming pool, and tennis courts. The complex was built by the Callaway Foundation. “I’ll always appreciate what the Callaway folks did for my community,” Carla says. “We all had access to the best in facilities and equipment in our community because of Callaway.”
Carla tried every sport from tennis to volleyball to basketball and became something of a gym rat, shooting baskets at every opportunity. It was Lois Myers who told Carla that she was good enough to play basketball on the college level, which made Carla work even harder. A scholarship to play college basketball! That would add an exclamation point to her goals and objectives. When she arrived in Athens, there were older players like Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain, established and tough on the court. Carla became a starter in her second season and performed well — you will still find her name in the record books, no. 8 on all time assists and no. 9 on all time steals.
During her Georgia playing career, Carla always underscored due diligence, which would lead her to a sociology degree and a masters in public administration at Georgia, followed by a doctor of philosophy degree at Florida State. She worked at FSU from 1997-2000 and spent four years as an associate athletic director at Vanderbilt before returning to Georgia. Nobody could offer a more generous appraisal of Carla’s work and worth to the Bulldogs than Athletic Director Greg McGarity, who says: “Carla is the consummate professional and someone who is vital to the overall success of our program. I, as well as our entire staff, depend on her advice and counsel. Not a day goes by without a meeting, text, or phone call with Carla about something going on within our program. Her respect factor is off the charts internally and throughout our world of intercollegiate athletics. I am so fortunate to be alongside her and am very proud to call her my friend.”
Today, you see Carla Green Williams with a polite and charming smile, moving about the Georgia athletic scene with a personality and demeanor that reflects introspection, hospitality, accommodation, and goodwill and a caring attitude for the welfare of the athletes who compete for the Bulldogs — across the board. She encourages Bulldog football players, who strike out for a life in the NFL, to return and get their degrees. Most athletes can follow their professional dream and spend the winter semester in class. Last January, Orson Charles, Blair Walsh, Danny Ware, Rennie Curran, and Ben Jones all did that, causing her to smile broadly as she ticked off the names of the players serious about completing degree requirements.
When she speaks of the progress of all athletes academically, it stimulates great enthusiasm in her voice. “The most fun about my job is seeing the student-athlete grow and become productive,” Carla says. She does not employ a secretary, opting to use student-athletes who want the experience of working as her assistant to gain experience in administration. Many of them work as graduate assistants who can be compensated when they have completed their eligibility.
She and her husband, Brian, who is assistant professor of public administration in the university’s School of Public and International Affairs, are avid fans of Bulldog football. She often travels with the team in her role as a senior administrator. You also see her at games of all other teams throughout the year — not because she has to, but because she is interested in the welfare of all Bulldog teams.
Perhaps the view of Mike Mobley, the Lady Dawgs basketball sports information director, best sums up Carla’s career. “The thing that sets her apart is that she competed at the highest level as an athlete, coached at the highest level, and is now an administrator at the highest level. When a topic is discussed, she has an amazing breadth of experience to draw from.”
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