Less than a year after joining the coaching staff at NCAA Division II Cameron University, former Crowder player and assistant coach Kyle Williams has been named the Aggies’ new head coach.
“Spending six years at a place like Crowder, that’s a program where the head coach (Travis Lallemand) there built from the ground up,” Williams said during an interview with ABC 7 News in Lawton (Oklahoma). “Being able to be a player and a coach in that system really helped me get a feel for building that family culture. That’s something that not only do athletes want to come back to when they’re playing, but they want to come back to when they’re done. I think that experience is going to help me a lot and last year, coming here and starting to build that culture a little bit.
“I’ve learned there’s quite a bit of history here (at Cameron), being the first junior college national champion. Obviously, there’s been a lot of good baseball players to come through here. I’m excited to try and get it back to that point where we’re out there competing for championships.
“My vision is to make it more of a player-centric program and make it something where kids want to come here and play. They want to be here for an extended period of time and make it more of a final destination than a stopping point. A lot of times, here in the recent past, there’s been a lot of kids that come in and they’re not here for very long. They’re only here for a year and I want to build something where kids want to come back and grow not only as a baseball player but as people.”
Williams played on the 2010 JUCO World Series team for Lallemand — Crowder’s first World Series qualifier — and then he served six years on the Crowder coaching staff as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator (2013-18). Williams returned to Grand Junction when the 2017 team qualified for the JUCO World Series.
At Crowder, Williams specialized in catchers, hitters, and offensive strategy overall. Two Crowder catchers won prestigious defensive honors — Blake Wilfong earned Region 16 defensive player of the year and a Rawlings NJCAA Gold Glove in 2014 and Michael Miller took Region 16 defensive player of the year in 2017.
During Williams’ time at Crowder, the Roughriders won 262 games overall with at least 40 wins in five of the six seasons, highlighted by 54 victories in 2017.
Last season, Cameron finished 23-29 overall and 12-12 in the Lone Star Conference and conference foes included nationally-ranked programs Angelo State and West Texas A&M.
Cameron reached the championship game of the conference tournament by knocking off overall No. 1-ranked Angelo State 12-3. That was one of only 12 losses for the Rams all season, a team that reached the South Central Super Regional and came one win short of reaching the DII College World Series in Cary, North Carolina.