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Tech Triumphs

Debbie Primeaux Williamson

Debbie Primeaux WilliamsonBe willing to give up what is good for what is best.

Title: Consultant to the NCAA as National Coordinator of Officials and Secretary-Rules Editor; Online Physical Education Instructor for North Carolina State University; Asst. Professor for Physical Education at the University of West Alabama.

Hometown: Hayes

Now resides in: Livingston, Ala.

Degree: B.S. (’85) & M.S. (’86) in Health and Physical Education

Family: Husband, Stan Williamson of Ruston and Tech grad (’85); daughter, Courtney (22) and two sons Mark (20) and Nathan (15). Courtney and Mark are students at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C.  

Tell us a little bit about your jobs, both as a professor and with the NCAA: I spent the past seven years as a professor and Coaching Minor Coordinator of Physical Education at North Carolina State University before accepting an Assistant Professorship at the University of West Alabama where Stan is the Director of Athletics. I continue to teach online courses in the Coaching Minor at N.C. State, but am resigning my position at West Alabama in order to meet the needs of my new NCAA position as National Coordinator of Officials. After nine years of coaching and seven years as a basketball referee, I have spent the past six years as the NCAA Women’s Basketball Secretary-Rules Editor. In that position, I have been the editor of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules and Case Book as well as the official rules interpreter for NCAA Women’s Basketball. In January, I accepted the position as the National Coordinator of Officials in addition to the responsibilities as the Secretary-Rules Editor. As the National Coordinator of Officials, my responsibilities include coordinating the national educational and evaluation program for NCAA women’s basketball officials as well as the selection of NCAA tournament officials. I also serve on several committees governed by NCAA and the Women’s Collegiate Basketball Officiating, LLC.

How has the job with the NCAA evolved – how did it even begin? My career with the NCAA began when Stan forwarded to me the job announcement for the NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor position in 2006. I interviewed and was offered that position in August 2006. To be the SRE, one could not be a coach, a coordinator of officials or a referee, so I had to step off the floor.

How often do you get back to Ruston and what do you do when you’re here – besides go to Johnny’s Pizza? We have visited my mother-in-law, Sandra Williamson, who lives in Ruston, every summer and every Christmas since we married in 1986. Now that we live in Alabama, we try to go every other month. At Christmas, we always try to catch a Tech basketball game and go to Johnny’s Pizza. In the summer, we try to get crawfish AND Johnny’s Pizza -- the best pizza in the world!!! Golf at Squire Creek or anywhere with Coach Barmore is always a treat when that works out!

What brought you to Tech? This may sound silly to some, but I believe God brought me to Tech for the following reasons: to change my heart so that I would come to know Jesus, to get a dose of really good softball teaching, to get an overdose of the best basketball in the country and to meet my husband. Barry Canterbury recruited me to play softball at Tech after seeing me pitch in the Louisiana State Softball Tournament. I was one of the first four scholarships offered to softball players at Tech. It was an honor to be awarded that scholarship for softball. It was ‘lagniappe’ for me when Ms. Hogg and Coach Barmore allowed me to walk on the basketball team. After two years of playing both sports, women’s basketball offered me a full basketball scholarship. That was one of the most significant days of my life. God had provided me with yet another miracle opportunity. I am still humbled that Ms. Hogg and Coach Barmore extended to me that offer because it clearly impacted the direction of the past 30 years of my life, the life of my family in south Louisiana and my career. There are only so many players in the country who have ever been a part of the kind of basketball program we had at Tech. We made history and God allowed me to come out of Bell City High to be a part of it.

Why did you choose this career? Basketball and teaching have always been my passions. I spent my first years as a full-time NCAA Division I assistant coach and the travel was too much for me as a first-time mother, so I forfeited that career so I could raise my kids. While I homeschooled the kids, I finished my doctorate which allowed me to do research in women’s basketball. I have spent the past 15 years teaching college students while dabbling in basketball as a part-time coach, referee and an independent contractor for NCAA Women’s Basketball. My most recent opportunity with the NCAA will allow me to take some time away from classroom teaching and focus on the national basketball officiating program. Outside of having my children, almost everything I have done has been driven by my love for the game of basketball and my desire to serve Jesus on that platform.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? I see myself serving the Lord by loving my family, my kids and grandkids, teaching and being involved in the game of basketball.

Your best memories of Tech: Our home-game crowds at Memorial Gym; game-winning hits on our new softball field; winning and winning and winning basketball games; my softball and basketball teammates; seeing the country while sharing the front seat with Ms. Hogg; trying to beat Coach Barmore at anything; being the first Tech Volleyball Coach; being treated like a queen by my foster parents, Betty and Butler Hampton and The Tip-off Club; great Bible studies at Wesley and the BSU; seeing my first football game; people not being able to understand my Cajun accent; being proposed to by Stan in front of the Thomas Assembly Center; being taught by the best physical education teachers, then leaving with two degrees; and LOTS of Johnny’s Pizza.

Your advice to Tech freshmen today: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. Nothing else will work so skip the heartache, wasted time, money and emotions. Get on your knees, ask the Lord for direction and He will show you your way. Give yourself up for His best. It beats anything you could possibly come up with. Be willing to give up what is good for what is best.

Advice to Tech students who want to stay involved with athletics as a career, or even as a volunteer: Follow your passion in any way you can. That may mean that you volunteer to do whatever you are passionate about. It may mean that you have to work three jobs to be able to afford to do what you love. People find a way to do what drives them even when they cannot do it as a full- time job. Find a way to make it work, but do not sacrifice your family to do it. Psalms 37:4 says to “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart,” and He will.

What is something that might not be common knowledge about those Techsters championship teams: When Debra Rodman, Kim Mulkey, Janice Lawrence and myself were freshmen, Angela Turner, Ann Pendergrass and Pam Kelly taught us that if a teammate was not in the dressing room, no one could talk about her. Whatever we had to say about someone needed to be said directly to that person. This was a lesson in leadership by those upperclassmen. It was also a lesson in loyalty. Few people will take that kind of stand and demand respect for each other. Those women stood firm on the simple lessons of what it takes to build champions on and off the court, then and now.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s…”: Life is hard, life is not fair, very few people get what we want, but God is still in the middle of everything building in me what He wants for a greater purpose. As a senior at Tech and after four years, I was still averaging 1:15 minutes per game and we were beating people by 30. Learning to sit and wait and trust God was a hard lesson for me to learn. I didn’t understand a lot of things, but I never quit and I trusted God that He would use what I didn’t understand to build something good out of it, and He has. In the past 25 years, we have lost jobs, lost our health at times, watched people we love suffer terminal illnesses, and lost an unborn child, and what I learned on the bench helped me get through those things because I had seen God build strength and faith in me and others when things didn’t make sense. It was a privilege to sit on that bench because God used it to make me who I am.

How did Tech prepare you for your career and, in general, life after college? The people I met at Louisiana Tech gave me an opportunity to be part of history and pointed me toward a path of hope and success. My kids see our banners, our pictures and video in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and have met my coaches and teammates. Likewise, my students have pulled up old pictures and game film of our championship days and are in awe of what our teams accomplished. Every job I have ever held has been because God used my days at Louisiana Tech to position me for success. The hard work and discipline in the little things taught by Coach Barmore and the lessons on appearance and grace taught by Ms. Hogg have served me well as a mom, a professional and a friend. I am forever grateful to Louisiana Tech for putting those people in those places to teach and lead us.