One of the more decorated goalkeepers in Kentucky men's soccer history, Dan Williams has returned to the program and will serve as a student assistant coach for the 2011 season, UK head coach Ian Collins announced on Friday evening.
Williams will join the dynamic UK coaching staff featuring Collins - who is a win away from 200 career victories - assistant coach Matt Wilkerson and goalkeeper coach Jeff Chaney. In addition to Williams, former UK soccer star Jason Griffiths will join the staff as a student assistant coach. Both Griffiths and Williams will be working to complete their undergraduate degrees while assisting the coaching staff.
"It is great. Griff and Dan were top level performers here," Collins said. "Both made a significant contribution to our team. Guys like having them around. Guys enjoy training with them and being around them. And understanding some of their experience when they were here and when they have been around professional clubs. I think it is great. Both have great energy and get enthusiasm. A real big plus for us this year."
A native of Fairfax Station, Va., Williams was a four-year starter who followed a long line of tremendous goalkeepers at UK, including Columbus Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum and Brian O'Leary. Williams, a fearless and physically imposing 6-foot-2 keeper, played in 73 career games with 72 starts, finishing with a 1.06 goals-against average in 6782 minutes. He finished with 221 career saves, 21 career shutouts and a 39-24-9 career record. In 2009, Williams led the league with a 0.78 goals-against average, allowing only 15 goals in 19 games, joining with Griffiths and Barry Rice to form a captain trio.
"I have definitely missed it a lot," Williams said after practice on Friday morning. "I like being around the program and helping out. It feels great to be back out here and try to help out with whatever I can get involved in."
Williams will work directly with the keepers, including Tyler Beadle, who earned All-Conference USA Freshman team honors in 2010. Beadle is joined in goal by Virginia Commonwealth transfer Jack Van Arsdale.
"(Tyler) Beadle is a great keeper," Williams said. "He is pretty much a complete keeper. He just needs some experience and I can help him with pointers here and there, but he is great. We have a lot of great players out here. "
"Dan is great," Collins said. "He was an outstanding competitor. He played hurt, he did everything we asked of him. He will help Tyler and Jack. He will make their training habits better. He will show them a true work ethic and it is great for him to get that experience too."
The Wildcats open the season one week from Friday, hosting Dayton at Aug. 26 at the UK Soccer Complex.