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Cuthbert set to dedicate gym, honor a legend tonight

Former Randolph-Clay boys basketball coach Joe Williams retired with 1,015 victories and six state titles.

Former Randolph-Clay boys basketball coach Joe Williams retired with 1,015 victories and six state titles.

CUTHBERT — Just call it the House That Coach Joe Built.

Tears will mingle with joy tonight at Randolph-Clay, where they’re officially opening the newly renovated gym with a touching ceremony honoring the man who built the program, bringing in the new with the best of the past.

It will be dedicated and named for the late Joe Williams, who was far more than a coach and a legend at Randolph-Clay, where he touched hearts for generations.

“To know coach Joe, to just know him,’’ said Randolph-Clay boys coach Oglesby Jackson, who was an assistant under Williams before taking over the program midseason two years ago. “He was one of those individuals who comes along once in your lifetime. You are glad you got to see him. It’s like a Michael Jordan or a Martin Luther King Jr. He is one of those individuals that if you were lucky enough to know him, you know it will never happen again in your lifetime. He’s one of those people. You can’t replace him.”

Williams set standards on the court that will never be equaled, and lived a life that left even a greater impression on everyone who knew him.

He won six state titles and retired with 1,015 wins. He won 90 games in a row between 2003 and 2006, and made Randolph-Clay a household name in Georgia high school basketball. And now the man, who didn’t even have a gym when he came to Randolph-Clay, will be remembered forever.

“Whenever anyone says Randolph-Clay they think of coach Joe,’’ Jackson said Thursday. “It’s deserving — very deserving. Very few coaches have gyms named for them. Even coaches in college don’t have gyms named after them, but coach Joe deserves this.’’

Jackson knows of the irony.

“When he started he didn’t even have a gym to play in,’’ Jackson said. “They had to practice outdoors and didn’t have a home gym, but he would still go out and beat people.’’

The ceremony will take place between the girls game, which begins at 6 p.m., and the boys game between Randolph-Clay and rival Calhoun County. Members of Williams’ family are coming in for the ceremony, and there will be a plaque to honor Williams. Then they will hang a jersey from the rafters to honor coach Joe.

The number on the jersey? It will be 1,015, representing his career wins.

There are no numbers to embody what he meant to Randolph-Clay.

“It will be a packed house. It’s going to be a big night,’’ Jackson said.