BHS still close to heart of Shaeeta Brown Williams

Michael Jacobs

One of most accomplished athletes ever to play in the West Baton Rouge Parish school system returned home last week hoping she can lead today’s generation to a similar path of success.

Shaeeta Brown Williams, a 1993 BHS graduate, hosted a basketball camp at the same school where she dazzled competition. She returned after college to coach the girls’ basketball team and coach for two years.

“I always feel at home when I come back here,” she said. “The gym looks a little different, but not much else has changed.“

Williams, now in her fourth year as an assistant ladies basketball coach at University of Texas, remains one of the bigger success stories in area high school sports.

As an eighth grader who competed in AAU hoop action, Williams had already drawn the attention of recruits from major universities such as LSU, Duke, Tennessee, Purdue and Florida State.

Williams, daughter of Nolan and Carolyn Brown, played for Duke University on a four-year scholarship after she graduated from BHS.

Williams coached basketball and taught at BHS from 1999-2001. She then headed back to Duke as an assistant coach, and now holds that spot at University of Texas.

She helped guide UT to a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but the team lost in the first round to San Diego State.

A career in coaching seemed a natural fit for Williams. Her high school years brought seemingly countless honors, including The Advocate’s Outstanding Athlete Award her senior year.

She was a District 8-2A Most Valuable Player three consecutive years in basketball.

Williams also garnered first-team All-State honors three years and a second-team spot her freshman season.

“I’ve said this many times before: She was the total package,” said BHS assistant principal Julie Mayeux, who coached Williams in basketball and softball. “”She had the attitude, leadership, academics and athletics – just an impeccable work ethic.

“Shaeeta was the Simone Augustus of her day,” she said. “Simone has achieved more in terms of collegiate awards, but Shaeeta had the same effect in terms of people watching her play in high school. We had little middle school players coming to watch her play and ask her for her autograph.”

The success came not only in basketball. She earned All-State honors four years in softball and two years in volleyball.

Williams was the only student since 1993 – and perhaps the last ever – to letter in four sports. “With kids today specializing in one sports, we may not see that again,” Mayeux said. “It was rare even back then.

“You can’t really describe her in one word,” she said. “But if you had to do it, ‘excellence’ would be the best word to use.”

Williams said the landscape of high school sports has changed over the years.

Basketball, in particular, has undergone changes.

“Kids are stronger and faster,” Williams said. “Because they’re such great athletes, they’re maybe not as skilled because now they can take advantage of their speed.

“In all high school basketball, the skill aspect has been lost with strength and speed,” she said. “I used this camp to emphasize skill.”

Basketball was her favorite sport, but she worked around the schedule to contribute to others sports.

Spring was particularly busy, with track and softball.

“I had to work around things to make it happen,” Williams said. “I was blessed to have great support from Coach Mayeux and Coach (Walt) Lemoine when I was in high school.”

Williams still follows the BHS girls basketball program. She said she is very optimistic about the current state of the program.

“Liza Whittington has done a great job,” she said. “The program is awesome today because of the demands she puts on the team.

“Her emphasis is that great players are made in the summer,” Williams said. “To be a great player, you have to work during the summer.”

She said one of her main goals with the camp was to offer he same guidance her peers gave her 20 years ago.

It also brought a lot of memories of her days as a player on the same court.

“What’s been really fun here is that some of the campers are kids of my former teammates,” Williams said. “I see the style of some of those former teammates, and everything from those days just comes right back to mind.”