Desert Vista Football, Wrestling Coach Dies


The Arizona coaching fraternity suffered a devastating hit Sunday afternoon when Tempe Desert Vista football and wrestling coach Jimmy Williams, only 35, died of an apparent heart attack.

Only an evening earlier, Jimmy had coached Desert Vista at the Aztec Duals at Tempe Corona del Sol.

His death came as a shock to all coaches and friends because of his youth and tremendous physical condition.

Jimmy is probably best remembered as a four-year football letter-winner at Arizona State University in the early 1980s. Not big at just over 200 pounds, he was the Sun Devils' leading tackler for two seasons. He went on to a pro career that was cut short by knee injuries.

Many, including former Tempe High School coaches Glenn Alford, Tim McBurney and Jim Murphy, remember him as one of the most tenacious football players and wrestlers to ever wear a Buffalo uniform.

Wrestling light as heavyweight when there were no poundage limits, he finished something like 50-0 during his final two seasons. In high school, he played both fullback and linebacker for the Buffs.

After ending a high school and college sports career that most only dream of, Williams married, had two sons, and began a football and wrestling coaching stint in tiny Maricopa.

Earlier, he had been a student assistant at Tempe High on the 1989 Buffalo state championship team.

McBurney, now the head coach at Tempe High, says Williams was invaluable in the Buffs championship run.

In 1992, Williams did the unheard of in Tempe and jumped to McClintock where he was the defensive coordinator for the Chargers.

When he left Maricopa after two highly successful years, Williams hooked up at Tempe Desert Vista, where he was the head jayvee football coach and a jayvee and varsity wrestling assistant.

Could it be?
The story will probably never be verified, but the way it's been told for the past 15 years is, when Williams was being heavily recruited as a senior at Tempe High, he was asked to participate in an all-expense-paid complimentary trip to the University of Arizona.

Being from Tempe, he'd pretty much decided on playing at ASU but said "okay" to the trip to Tucson.

In Wildcat land, he was treated royally. After a night out partying with team members, he returned to the plush hotel where he'd been put up by Arizona football officials.

Just before his U of A player hosts departed, Williams said he was hungry and would like something to eat. 'No problem,' he was told,' just order whatever you want from room service. Money is no object.'

So, Williams scampered downstairs and rounded up a band of homeless indigents sleeping in alleys nearby. He quickly herded them up to the hotel suite through a back entrance.

Once in the room, he gleefully told them to use the room phone and order whatever they liked from the steak-and-lobster-laden menu.

After the orders were in and delivered, he drove himself back to his home in Tempe, allowing his guests to revel in the comforts of the hearty meal and lavish hotel room.

True story?
Who knows? Some coaches believe it.

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