When Janice Williamson learned she would be the first softball coach at Bryan, she was in Europe. When she learned she’d be the district’s athletic director, she again was on vacation.
Williamson was named the Bryan athletic director at a school board work session Monday. She was confirmed unanimously with four board members present. Williamson is a Bryan native who graduated from Bryan High and Texas A&M and had been Bryan ISD assistant athletic director since 2007.
“There’s really nothing better than going back to your alma mater and getting a position where you can impact the lives of the kids and the coaches and work to make it better,” Williamson said.
Williamson replaces Lance Angel, who left after five years to take over the head football coach and athletic director positions at Palestine, where he coached from 2010-13. She enjoyed working with Angel and learned a lot from him and is ready to take the next step in her career, one in which she has taught more than 6,500 students.
“I don’t know that you’ll find anybody more dedicated and determined to make Bryan ISD athletics one of the best in the state,” Williamson said. “I was there when that’s how we were considered, and I’d like to see us return. I think Coach Angel started putting the pieces together, and I’d like to just finish what he started.”
In a press release, Bryan superintendent Christine Whitbeck said she was excited about the future of Bryan ISD athletics under Williamson.
“Janice Williamson knows Bryan ISD through and through,” Whitbeck said in the release. “During her four decades of experience, she has developed relationships with coaches, parents, peers and the community.”
Williamson believes the experience of building a softball team from the ground up, along with her years in an administrative role, will help her in her new position. In the near future, she hopes to repair local tracks — a measure to resurface the track at Merrill Green Stadium was passed by the school board Monday — and build a press box at the Rudder football field. She also wants to increase participation and continue to improve middle school programs.
“At the time we started, the UIL didn’t recognize softball; it was several years later,” Williamson said. “The softball team was actually the result of not only my work, but also the community. We had leagues, we had dads who were committed to teaching kids softball. So really, you need the community’s support, and so I can use that experience.”
Williamson, who played softball at A&M, was named the first Bryan softball coach in 1989 and led the Lady Vikings to a Class 5A state championship in 2002. Current Bryan softball coach Enrique Luna took over for her when she was named assistant athletic director.
She started her career in 1978 at Hearne Middle School, where she coached volleyball, basketball and track before coming to Bryan in 1981 to coach the three sports.
“I’ve been a Bryan ISD person through and through,” Williamson said. “I was born in Bryan. I’ve been a resident of Bryan ISD my entire life, and I’m committed. I want our sports programs and our kids to have the best and to be the best.”