Rhonda Williams spent 2013-14 as Fresno City College’s interim athletic director.
Williams admitted she missed the job she gave up: coaching the school’s softball team. Even while serving as the fill-in AD, fans could find Williams at the Rams’ home games, watching from beyond the outfield fence.
A year went by and Williams decided that the “AD thing wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
“I prefer coaching,” she says.
And with that, Williams stepped back from her administrative post to return this year for her 20th season as coach. She couldn’t be happier heading into Thursday’s 2 p.m. opener against visiting Bakersfield JC.
“I’m so glad to be back,” she said. “I miss the competitive atmosphere … the athletes. It was tough last year for me not to be out here.”
It was during fall ball that Williams told the team she would be returning.
“She couldn’t wait to see what the season held for us,” sophomore infielder/outfielder Hayley Olivas said. “We were all very excited. We could tell she came in ready to work and she got us hyped for the season.
“I wanted to play for her. She was a huge reason I came to City in the first place.”
In Williams’ absence, assistants Sandi Auble and Haley Janzer led the Rams to a 27-15 record, including 14-4 and a runner-up finish in the Central Valley Conference. The Rams were eliminated in the Super Regionals.
Fresno City is again ticketed to advance to the postseason, ranked No. 14 in the preseason state poll and No. 7 in NorCal.
“I really like their competitiveness,” said Williams, who has a career record of 509-336. “They have a real desire to win and do well, and on top of that they’re just a real nice group of girls. They’re good people and that makes it even more fun.
“It means a lot to me that they’re good students. We never have to ask them more than once to do something. They’re very coachable and they learn quick and they’re competitive.”
Returning pitchers are Jackie Anzaldo and Selena Ruiz who went 12-6 and 11-7, respectively. Nicole Roberts, who was 2-0, also will see time in the circle. Ruiz batted .378 and drove in 37 runs.
“We have a great group of returners,” Williams said. “Jackie is very versatile, a good hitter and same with Selena. Real competitive person. Knows the game well.”
Olivas is eager to get started — and for Williams’ return.
“Having her around creates a different environment and I feel like we don’t work for ourselves … we work for her,” she said. “Seeing her care the way she does makes us want to play better.”