Bill Warren made quite an impact on girls sports at Toombs Central High School in a relatively short period of time. He coached six seasons of basketball turning a losing program into a winner quickly. On Sunday, December 9, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Toombs County High School Auditorium, coach Warren and 17 others will be inducted into the Toombs County Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I was 31 when I came to Toombs Central in 1973. I coached girls basketball at TC for six years, including coaching girls track for three years.” Warren said. “During that time my record in basketball was 100-40, but we were 93-28 after the first year. Our best finish in the region was second place even though our tallest player that year was five-feet, five-inches”.
By year two Warren had the Lady Yellow Jackets winning on all levels. “In my second year at TC, my varsity girls were 22-2 and my B-Team and junior high girls were 20-2. My varsity girls gave up just 22 points per game that year, and shut out opponents for an entire quarter three times.”
Coach Warren didn’t force a style of play on his team and instead he adapted to his personnel. “During my first three years at TC, we played 1-2-2 zone defense. But, then to counteract our lack of size and take advantage of our speed and quickness, I switched to pressure man-to-man defense. Offensively, we did whatever we could to score points. It got infinitely easier when I switched to pressure man-to-man.”
That pressure defense yielded some amazing results. “Near the end of my coaching at TC we won our first 18 games one year and finished 20-3. That team did something that no other team I’ve ever heard of, boys or girls, has ever done: We averaged 55 steals and forced turnovers per game. (That’s stealing the ball or forcing the opponents to turn it over to us nearly twice a minute over an entire 23-game season!) We won by an average of 33 points per game that season.”
Warren the coach was also William E. Warren the author. In his book “Coaching and Motivation- A Practical Guide to Maximum Athletic Performance” Warren made many references to his Toombs Central teams.
“The touch rule was a way of reinforcing the bonds between my players, and between them and me. We considered ourselves a family in the best sense of that word, and reaching out to touch a teammate (or me) reinforced that concept. It said, “I accept you. You are an important part of my basketball (or track) family.”
Here are two other Toombs Central references from the book:
Warren also coached track during the spring working with many of the same athletes like Clara Harden and Mary McCall. “In track, we won two region championships and at state we finished fifth (with just two girls competing), second and first. The year we won state, we won it by 15 points. I was named State Coach of the Year in Girls Track.”
Toombs Central’s State Championship Results
Of course track is both a team and an individual sport and Warren says trust and confidence were important to getting the best results out of a track and field athlete. “The same girls were on both teams. Motivation consisted of teaching them to believe in me, in themselves and in what they could accomplish as a team and individually. Once they believed those things, the rest was easy.”
“I remember one time after we’d qualified all but one girl on our track team for the state meet, the remaining girl- whose points we didn’t need, we’d already gotten enough points to win the Region- was struggling around the final lap in the mile, trying to qualify for state. Girls told me they heard her saying as she ran, “Please, Jesus, don’t let me let them down!” That’s the kind of motivation that counts. She finished second and qualified for state.”
McCall who won the 440 and the 880 at state and was a member of the state championship mile relay team will also be inducted into the Toombs County Athletic Hall of Fame and coach Warren will introduce her. “She was dominant in Class B girls track the way Herschel Walker was in football.”
Warren’s coaching career basically came to an end after his stint at Toombs Central. “I stopped coaching because, by my sixth year, we were the third-smallest high school in the state, with only 48 girls in grades 9-12. The high school closed down shortly after that. I didn’t coach but one year after I left TC. By then I was more interested in writing books than in coaching any longer. It’s difficult to do both at the same time.”
“My books include two books co-authored with Jerry Tarkanian (Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State Hall of Fame Coach), one co-authored with Bob Cousy (Boston Celtic Hall of Famer), and one co-authored with Larry Chapman (Auburn-Montgomery head coach for 37 years and the NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1987-1988). My other sports books include two of my favorites (that I wrote): COACHING AND MOTIVATION and COACHING AND WINNING. I wrote 11 coaching books in all, and also seven other fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. All but two of my books were written while I was living in Toombs County.”