Staff Photo Carmilla Wilson was named the athletic director's assistant at Berkmar in September, but she has been working at Gwinnett County schools for more than a decade, including a long stint at Norcross.
Carmilla Wilson was named the athletic director's assistant at Berkmar in September, but she has been working for Gwinnett County Public Schools for more than a decade. Wilson moved to Gwinnett in 2001 after her husband, David, retired from the Air Force. They brought their daughter, Kera, and son Darrius, to the Norcross area and Wilson ended up working for the high school for six years. She also worked at Brookwood before coming to Berkmar in 2009.
Even after she started working at Brookwood, Wilson ran the clock for Norcross boys basketball. She still ran the clock for Norcross after coming to Berkmar and keeping the book for the boys basketball team. In 2011, Wilson gave up her responsibilities at Norcross, but remains a staple of Gwinnett hoops with her work for the Patriots.
In this installment of "Getting to Know ...", the outgoing and worldly Wilson talks with staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including going to high school in Guam, her abilities on the basketball court and keeping a lid on her feelings while sitting at the scorer's table during games.
CT: Where did you grow up?
CW: I was raised in the military.
CT: So lots of places?
CW: Lots of places. I was born in Okinawa, Japan. Then we moved from there to California. From there I moved to Alabama, then Utah, then Idaho. I graduated from high school in Guam. I came back and lived in Illinois. So I was an Air Force brat.
CT: What was the longest you were in any of those places?
CW: California, we lived there maybe six years. Illinois, I lived there for 11 years.
CT: Were you in high school in Guam the whole four years?
CW: For two years, from '78-'80. I graduated in '80. I didn't go to graduation. My dad said we have a choice, 'We can stay here six more months so you can graduate. Or we leave and you miss your graduation.' I said, 'Let's go.' I mean, Guam, you can go around the whole island in an hour and a half. There wasn't much to do.
CT: Do you have siblings?
CW: I have three brothers.
CT: Where are you in the order?
CW: I am the second oldest.
CT: Some kids would get mad about moving that much. Did it bother you?
CW: No, because you get to meet a lot of people, see a lot of cultures. Sometimes you meet someone you really like and then you're like, 'Dang, I've got to move.' But then you get so used to it, when you move, you just pick up and keep on going. So it wasn't really bad for me.
CT: Did you like any one place better than another?
CW: I met my husband in Florida, which I liked, but I prefer the four seasons. Then we ended up going back to Japan -- my husband was Air Force. We moved to Japan for four years and then moved to Germany for four years. Germany was my favorite. I loved Germany.
CT: Which part of Germany were you in?
CW: We were in Spangdahlem, which is near Trier. It's almost on the border with Belgium. I love it.
CT: Did you like the food, the people?
CW: I loved everything about it. They have good food, they have beautiful castles. The country is just beautiful. It's very clean. You can travel anywhere from Germany. My husband and I would drive everywhere. We went to England, to Belgium, to Denmark, to Austria. Amsterdam, Holland. We went everywhere.
CT: How did you meet your husband?
CW: At a club (laughing). We kept running into each other. He was stationed at MacDill in Tampa. We knew each other for 11 months and got married. We've been married 28 years.
CT: How long was he stationed in Florida?
CW: I think he was there two years and then we moved to Japan. My daughter was born in Tampa before we left and our son was born in Japan.
CT: Living all those places, how are you with foreign languages?CW: Well, in Germany, it's a very hard language to learn. I knew the basics and that was it. Japan was worse because everything was in kanji. So if you didn't know the symbols, forget it. And some of those symbols look exactly the same. Both were hard countries to learn the language. I just knew the basics.
CT: How did you end up in Atlanta?
CW: After we left Germany, we were stationed in Abilene, Texas, for six years. He was sent to Saudi during that time and we thought he might be restationed. But then he ended up retiring in 2001. We had come to visit Atlanta because my cousin lived here and we wanted to move here because of the diversity, for our children. My kids, and I, were raised where we were the minorities. I wanted them to see the other side, see that, hey, everybody can go places, all cultures can be successful. Which is why we picked Atlanta.
We started looking at schools and I went to Norcross, looking for our daughter, and I ended up getting a job there.
CT: You were just checking it out and got a job?
CW: Just checking it out. I actually worked for the government before I came here. In Texas, I was a commander's secretary. So I was going to do that here. But I went to the school and they ended up having an opening.
When I was in Germany, I worked in an elementary school. And I helped with sports there, too. In fact, I still have my sweatpants from my school in Germany. I said, 'I do like high school, I do like sports.' So I started working at Norcross.
CT: What job was it?
CW: I started out in the counseling office and then I went in as a discipline clerk. I did that from 2001 to 2007 when I transferred to Brookwood because we bought a home in Lawrenceville. I worked at Brookwood from 2007-2009 and then I came to Berkmar.
At Brookwood, I worked in the attendance office and transferred to Berkmar as a discipline clerk and then a registrar. In September, I became the athletic director's assistant.
Now, I did the clock at Norcross (basketball) from 2002 to 2011.
Then I came to Berkmar in 2009 and Coach (Greg) Phillips and I worked together at Norcross. He asked me when I got here to do his books. So I've done that since 2009.
CT: You were doing the book for Berkmar while you were still running the clock at Norcross?
CW: I was doing both. It was the best, but some days were tough.
CT: What is in your job description now?
CW: Of course, I still do the book for the boys. Eligibility on athletes. I also do scheduling for their field trips, the buses and all that. I do discipline. Anything with athletics, I do.
CT: Sounds like a big umbrella. Is your door always open?
CW: Always. It's non-stop.
CT: You've done it for a while, do you enjoy keeping the books at basketball games?
CW: I was thinking about that, between the clock and the book, I love the book so much more. Because you can mess up! (laughing) For example, when I was at Norcross and they played South Gwinnett, which back then was the big game, and it was down to the last second of the game. I'm working the clock, packed house. Ref told me to start the clock. I start the clock. Well, somebody called timeout. Nobody heard the timeout call or the whistle blow and South Gwinnett was upset. It was like a one- or two-point game. They felt they lost the game because I didn't stop the clock. But I follow what the ref says. So, games like that, when you work the clock, all eyes are on you. So it's real critical.
I enjoyed it the time that I did do it, but I like the books more. It's more communication with the coaches and I like that interaction.
When I was at Norcross, working with Coach (Eddie) Martin was such a great experience. I really enjoyed working for him. He's a really good coach. And being here, with Coach Phillips, doing the books, I travel with the boys everywhere. Not just local games. So I'm like their momma at school. The boys here at Berkmar, I love them. They are such humble kids. Very good kids. So I try to do special things for them. And they appreciate it. We both love each other.
But I hate when we play Norcross. It's bittersweet after working there for nine years. But I had to pick which one I wanted to do and I picked the books at Berkmar.
CT: When you're at the table, is it hard to keep your feelings in check sometimes?
CW: Oh, my gosh. I'm so glad the refs like me. Because there are a couple of games I could easily have had a technical. (laughing) You're not supposed to say anything, but sometimes those refs make it so hard. But I know a lot of them, they come shake my hand, we joke around and everything. So they know I normally keep my composure, but SOMEtimes, oh, you just want to reach out there and touch somebody (laughing).
My husband is like, 'Baby, just don't.' He goes with me to every single game. I couldn't have a better husband. He supports me wherever we go. Every game I go to, he goes to.
CT: After so many years around here, you must know a lot of the refs?
CW: Almost all of them. And we're always cordial with each other. I have a good rapport with all of them. Even though I don't agree with some of their calls, at the end of the day, I still like them.I love the job. I love sports. So this (AD assistant job) was perfect for me.
CT: Did you play sports growing up?
CW: I did. I played basketball and I used to do track in my thinner days (laughing). In fact, I was one of the fastest runners in elementary and middle school. In junior high and some high school, I played basketball. I was tomboyish.
CT: What kind of basketball player were you?
CW: I was OK. I wasn't a superstar, I'm not going to lie to you. I knew how to get a rebound and make a layup. I wasn't a superstar, but I worked the inside. I knew it wasn't going to be a career, I'll put it that way.
CT: Do you have any favorite vacation spots?
CW: My husband and I, this past summer, went to New York. It was a different, but nice experience. But for our honeymoon, we went to Bermuda. I loved it. And we're going again this summer.
My husband's family is from Jamaica. We haven't been there, but Bermuda was beautiful. You don't drive a car, you drive around on a moped.
CW: As long as you don't wipe out (laughing). We saw a couple of those. We'd see a moped behind us and all of a sudden you see the headlight going all over the place and you knew they crashed. I told my husband, 'Please don't be one of those.'
CT: What kind of music do you listen to most often?
CW: Gospel music. Some jazz, some reggae, but I love my gospel music. I'm not a rap person. They say all those words I don't like.
CT: Are there any TV shows you try not to miss?
CW: "Family Feud." I like game shows. My husband teases me, but I like watching the game shows.