Troup native, Virginia AD honored with woman of year award

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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For LaGrange native and University of Virginia Athletic Director Carla Williams, leading the way in female representation in college sports is no sweat.

Williams is among four recipients of the Women in Sports and Events (WISE) organization’s “Women of the Year” award. The award ceremony will be held on March 14 in New York City.

“In the sports arena, it’s predominantly men at this level,” Williams said. “I’ve worked hard to make sure that I’m prepared and can excel in a profession that is dominated by men. For me, this acknowledgment sends a message to organizations and institutions that women and people of color are fully capable of achieving greatness.”

Beginning her career at the University of Georgia as a basketball player, Williams would dribble to the courts of UGA, Florida State University and Vanderbilt before ending up at UVA.

Williams credits her experiences at each of the schools for helping arrive where she is today.

“I try to always appreciate all the people in places that have helped me along the way. In every place, I’ve been and they know about LaGrange, Georgia, including here at UVA because I talk about it a lot,” Williams said. “I was very fortunate had had a great family, community and school system that helped prepare me. I’m thankful that LaGrange helped to shape me and prepare me to be where I am today.”

Williams made history as the first African American female to be named the athletic director at a school in the Power Five conference.

“Being the first Black female athletic director at the Power Five level for me is more of a message to others that I hope will go on to create opportunities for women and people of color to follow,” Williams said.

A part of Williams’ WISE award comes from her part in creating UVA’s Master Plan, a capital campaign for UVA’s athletic facilities.

“We are the twelfth largest athletic department in the country. We’ve got 800 student-athletes, 27 sports and so our facilities needed a refresh and new construction to accommodate a lot,” Williams said.

“We took the time to assess what was needed for all of our sports and created that plan to help fundraise for it, and we are almost finished with phase one and construction is underway or phase two.”

Williams said phase three of the master plan will start this later this spring.

“We are well on our way with the plan and hopefully it will be completed in the next three to four years,” Williams said.

In a career that has taken her many places, Williams said what is the most important to her is making sure she can help people who are trying to follow in her footsteps or needs help.

“I’m still connected to LaGrange and Troup County and trying to help young people go to college and complete college through a scholarship that’s set up in my parents’ names,” Williams said.

“I want to make sure that other little girls in LaGrange, in places like LaGrange, understand they can do anything that they set their mind to. What’s most important for me is for others to see that it can be done for them to pursue whatever it is they set their mind to.”

As a native of LaGrange, Williams said she wouldn’t be where she is now without her teachers, church and neighborhood communities and the Griggs Recreation Center.

“I’m so thankful that LaGrange is a community that supports and encourages young people pursuing their dreams, and I’m the beneficiary of that,” Williams said.