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Providence inducts Willliamson into Hall of Stars posthumously

Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul Williamson, right, speaks during a ceremony to induct is son, the late Jonathan Williamson into the Hall of stars at Providence Christian Academy Thursday afternoon. Jonathan Williamson was both a graduate of Providence Christian Academy and a girls soccer coach. Members of Williamson's family were on hand for induction into the Hall of Stars.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul Williamson, right, speaks during a ceremony to induct is son, the late Jonathan Williamson into the Hall of stars at Providence Christian Academy Thursday afternoon. Jonathan Williamson was both a graduate of Providence Christian Academy and a girls soccer coach. Members of Williamson's family were on hand for induction into the Hall of Stars.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul Williamson, right, speaks during a ceremony to induct is son, the late Jonathan Williamson into the Hall of stars at Providence Christian Academy Thursday afternoon. Jonathan Williamson was both a graduate of Providence Christian Academy and a girls soccer coach. Members of Williamson's family were on hand for induction into the Hall of Stars.

LILBURN -- The light pink socks and hot pink arm bands made a statement.

The Providence girls soccer team wore them to honor their former head coach, Jonny Williamson, during Thursday's game against Mt. Pisgah.

Williamson was inducted posthumously into the school's Hall of Stars after the game, a 3-0 win by Providence. The Stars' coach from 2005-10, Williamson was a strong supporter of Relay for Life and the pink was meant to reflect his dedication to the cause.

Williamson was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2010 and died Nov. 25 of that year when he was just 32.

The pink was eye-catching. But it was the black writing on the inside of each player's arm that spoke loudest.

The team, many of whom Williamson coached for several seasons, wrote some of his more famous quotes with a Sharpie on the inside of their forearms.

"As the girls were recalling them and writing them out, they were just dying laughing," head coach Andy Randrup said. "They were just cracking up because all those funny times bring back such great memories."

The seniors were happy to talk about the laughs they had with Williamson.

"Space is your friend," Brooke Kelly said of the quote on her arm. "You just killed your friend."

"What? What!?" was another printed in black ink.

"Rule No. 1, don't hit Coach. Rule No. 2, don't stand behind Coach. Rule No. 3, don't touch Coach."

With time has come the ability to look back and laugh.

Athletic director Michael Woods, who made the induction, said what he remembered most was how the laid-back Williamson would come into his office to talk, always holding a giant cup of Chick-fil-A sweet tea.

Sarah Steinmann Meadows went to Providence with Williamson and coached against him for several years while she was at Holy Innocents'. She's now an assistant coach at the school and was inducted into the Hall of Stars two years ago.

"He was just an awesome man," Steinmann Meadows said. "He had such a servants' heart. He loved what he did. He loved those girls. It's evident that he was an unbelievable coach, but he was an unbelievable person."

Williamson was 80-29-5 at Providence with four area championships, three Final Four appearances and the AA/A state title in 2007 when the Stars were 21-1. Fifteen of his players went on to college careers and Williamson was devoted to helping all his students be successful.

"It's tremendous to see kids you invest in come full circle," said Randrup, who was one of Williamson's coaches and teachers. "To the point where their whole focus is to invest in the next generation.

"He was a tremendous young man that just in his short span of eight years here at Providence, probably invested more in the lives in the others than a lot of us do in a lifetime."

Williamson's family was on hand to receive a replica of the plaque that will hang in Providence's main hall.

He was the only inductee this year, the fourth time Providence has selected people for its Hall of Stars. The ceremony is usually held between basketball games on homecoming. But this year, the school chose to have it on the soccer field where Williamson spent so much of his time.

"We just want to express our appreciation and love for Jonny," Woods said in front of a large gathering of the extended Providence family.

Randrup spoke next, reading from written remarks because, even after more than a year, Williamson's passing brings emotions to the surface.

"As sad as it is not having Jonny with us here today," Randrup said. "I'm confident he was greeted in heaven with 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"