Roy Williams speaks with Hill journalists and reflects on his journey as a coach


Media: Katie Newkirk '22

Journalism students take part in a Zoom interview with former UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball coach Roy Williams.

Former Tar Heels men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, who retired after the 2021 season, is loved by many. Over 48 years of his coaching career, spanning high school and college coaching, Williams gathered extensive knowledge about teamwork and life. He not only builds teams but also cultivates class and characters. Williams is way more than a basketball coach.

As a three-time NCAA championship coach, Williams considers many different factors in building a team. The main trait that he looks for is athleticism. “In basketball, you got to have the quickness; you got to be able to run; the bigger you are, sure that helps,” Williams said. 

Williams added, “I want unselfish players, I want guys that will work extremely hard … Having someone who has a great attitude, tremendous talent, but cares more about that team win is, I think, the single most essential quality.”

Looking back on his youth, Williams was a leader and initiator of events. “When I was 15, 16, 17, I was calling everybody and saying which park we were gonna play at that afternoon and what time,” Williams said. From a young age, he was always the coordinator for sporting events growing up, which has been a lifelong passion of his.

Nearly 60 years later he is still the guy who builds teams. Williams said, “71 years old, I’m still the guy that schedules the golf trips for what I call my foxhole buddies and their wives.”

Williams has been through a lot of hardships in his coaching career. He has his way of keeping the momentum and carrying on when facing adversity. Williams said, “To me, the biggest thing is, nobody’s gonna put as much pressure on me as I am myself. So the outside pressure has never really bothered me.” He doesn’t care about what the media says because dealing with his internal pressure comes first.

As a head coach, taking losses was the toughest challenge Williams faced. “I did hold on to losses a lot more than I enjoyed the wins. And I think, as a coach, that’s the most difficult thing,” Williams said.

Williams said, “I had a lot of games, I coached over 1,100 games I think. And I know we won 903. But I know we lost over 200 … winning three national championships is the most satisfying thing you can ever imagine as a coach.”