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Jim Williams, Former State High Coach and Longtime Penn State Assistant, Remembered for His Positive Impact on Athletes

by on October 09, 2019 2:32 PM

Jim Williams, who coached some legendary State College Area High School football teams before becoming a longtime Penn State assistant, has died, his family confirmed on Wednesday.

Williams spent nearly 30 years at Penn State as both an assistant and then as an administrative assistant for the program.

A defensive specialist, Williams joined Joe Paterno's coaching staff in 1977, helping guide a defensive unit that did not allow more than 19 points to an opponent all season in 1986. Penn State finished off that 1986 campaign with a 14-10 win over Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl to close out the year 12-0 and with Penn State's second national championship in four years.

“Not only was I fortunate enough to personally see the impact that Jim made on his family, his passing reminds me of the impact he made, and the influence he had, over so many young athletes at Bellefonte HS, State College HS and, ultimately, Penn State," said Rick Kaluza, Williams' son-in-law and Penn State's senior associate AD for finance and businesses operations.

Following a 16-year coaching stint, Williams transitioned to an administrative assistant role that oversaw pre-season arrangements, game-day operations, office management, liaison with high schools and professional sports teams and bowl game preparations. He would eventually retire from the university in 2005.

On the field Williams played center and linebacker at Penn State under Coach Rip Engle and was teammate with former Penn State assistant coaches Dick Anderson and Galen Hall. Williams earned a degree in business administration in 1963 and soon began his 29-year coaching career as an assistant coach at Bellefonte Area High School from 1964-68. Williams then took over the head coaching role at State College Area High School program in 1969.

It was there that Williams began to blossom as a coach. In eight seasons at State College, his teams compiled a 65-13 record including a No. 1 state ranking following the end of the 1973 season. Over a similar span the Little Lions accumulated a 36-game winning streak led by Williams and players John Sefter and Paul Suhey. The streak is still the longest in the program's history to this day.

"RIP to the man known by Jim, Ace, Dad, Coach but more importantly to me, Pa." grandson and State High assistant Tyler Kaluza said in a tweet. "You were the reason I got into coaching and teaching- if I can make even half the impact you had on players at State High and PSU, then I’ll take that. I’ll be coaching this one for you on Friday night."

"Coach Williams certainly had a huge impact on all of Happy Valley," current State High head coach Matt Lintal wrote on Twitter. "He set the standard to which everyone else will forever strive to achieve."

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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