Class of 2015
Joe Williams began wrestling in 5th grade in Dixon, IL where he wrestled for Coach Tom Rick and Jeff Wasson’s Middle School program and was in the IKWF tournament 6th, 7th and 8th grade. IWCOA Hall of Famer, Don Mekeel was instrumental in organizing and coaching Joe’s first IKWF state tournament in the 6th grade. He placed 3rd in 7th grade and 5th in 8th grade.
Williams started his high school career at Sterling Newman Central Catholic where IWCOA President and Hall of Fame member Rich Montgomery coached him.
After relocating to the southern part of the state, Joe wrestled at Belleville Althoff for coaches Tom Simpson (sophomore season) and Randy Noud (Jr. and Sr. seasons). At 98 Pounds, he was IHSA (2A) state qualifier his sophomore year (81-82). He finished 2nd in state his junior year (82-83) as well as his senior year (83-84), falling short of his state championship dream in an overtime match at 105 lbs. to round out his high school career.
Joe continued his wrestling career wrestling for IWCOA and NJCAA Hall of Fame Rex Branum at Lincoln College in Lincoln IL. He was an NJCAA All-American (126lbs) placing eight in the Nation with his team placing 4th. With a transfer to the Chicago area, Joe followed Coach Branum to Triton College in River Grove IL. Joe proceeded to place 4th at the Junior College Nationals, again earning NJCAA All-American Status at 126 lbs and his team finished 3rd in the nation.
From Triton, Williams transferred to Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) in Springfield, MO wrestling for the late National Hall of Fame member, Dr. Mike McCarty and assistant Sean McCarthy (Indiana State, 1984 Midlands Champion). Joe placed 3rd at the Midwest regional (1987) his junior year at 126 lbs and 2nd place at the regional his senior year, 1988 (126 lbs) qualifying for the NCAA DIV I wrestling tournament.
Joe credits both Rex Branum and Sean McCarthy as the two biggest influences on his wrestling coaching career.
Joe first began his coaching career as a student assistant coach at SMSU. He then obtained a Biology teaching position at Lockport High School where he is currently employed. Serving as an assistant coach in 1989-1990 season only, Joe was the head coach of the program from 1991-2011compiling a dual meet record of 294-142-3. Many great people assisted him but long time assistants George Brecheisen and Brian Klene were an integral part of the early building process. Under Joe’s tenure the Porters won 1 SWSC Conference Championship (2009) and 1 IHSA Regional Championship (2010). Lockport was “unofficial” state tournament team scoring runner-ups in 2009, 8th place in 2010 and “unofficial tournament scoring champions” in 2011.
Joe retired as head coach in 2011.
During his 21 years as head coach, Williams has coached 48 state qualifiers, and 19 state placers which includes 3 state champions and 6 runner-ups. He has been Coach of the Year for the SICA Wrestling Coaches Association as well as the SWSC Wrestling Coaches Association. He has been a past IWCOA nominee for the IHSA Head Coach of the Year. Joe has been serving as a volunteer assistant coach for past wrestler, loyal assistant and Lockport’s present head coach, Josh Oster since his retirement.
Beyond high school, many of his wrestlers have gone to the next level whether it was college (NCAA Div 1, 2, 3, NAIA, WCWA, NWCA, Junior College) or international styles. Many which have been successful; highlighted by David Pena, a NCAA DIV I All-American for Eastern IL, Jake Oster was an 4 time Division III All-American as for Elmhurst College and Mark Stenberg and Haley Augello (WCWA 2xNational Champion) were World Team Members in their perspective age groups. Jake Oster, Greg Goska (Lawrence University and Matt Weber (Lakeland College) were also NCAA Div III Academic All-Americans. There have been countless Fargo tournament qualifiers and and many USAW and FILA All-Americans including Fargo National Champs in both Greco and Freestyle.
Joe is the son of Tom and Joyce Williams and has 2 older brothers, Michael an IHSA state qualifier, and James an IHSA state place winner, both of Sterling Newman and one younger brother John, an Eagle Scout recipient. Tom was a huge part of his son’s early wrestling development taking him to many tournaments in grade school and early high school and supporting, motivating and encouraging him on the way. Joyce kept her sons competitive spirit and his “manners” in check during his years of competition and played a big role in Joe’s coaching philosophy and how he approaches winning and losing.
Joe met Laura Dyer in college at SMSU where she was a team statistician. For the last 25 years Joe has been the proud husband of Laura (Big Lar), who was his number one supporter and anchor. You could find her bringing her 3 children (no matter what age) to nearly every meet/tournament (away and home) so the family can share the time together as much as possible. Their son Emeric (22) wrestled and was a IHSA sectional qualifier for Lockport and a big part of Joe’s first ever Regional Championship win. Emeric wrestled for UW-Platteville. Their daughters, Emily (21) (John Carroll University, Cleveland, OH) and Elaena (18) (UW Whitewater), were both dedicated statisticians and passionate supporters of their father and the program before and during their high school years.
Joe treasures spending time with his family and loves to fish. His faith in Christ is a very important part of his past and who he is becoming. Joe is a member of Holy Family Parish in Shorewood and is involved with multiple ministries including Parish Council, Fishers of Men and Knights of Columbus. He is planning on getting involved with some type of Prison Ministries in the near future.