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Parent sees sports as shield from trouble

on November 8, 2009

After Friday’s rainy weather, the group that came to cheer on Richmond High School that evening was very small. Only about ten parents came to watch the Richmond High football team’s last game this season at Pinole Valley High School.

Michael Williams was among them.  His 15-year-old son Zachary was playing for Richmond High. Williams attended every single game his son played this season — not just for support, but also out of his own love of sports.

An alumnus of Richmond High School, the 6’6” man played for the school’s basketball and football teams over 20 years ago. He also played in the All American Basketball Game in 1979.

“The sports games in my age were more fun and exciting.” Williams recalled, “We played for the love of the game.”

After high school, he went to college and then started his career as basketball player for a professional team in Canada for 10 years in 1980s. He now works as an operator at a steel company in Richmond.

Being a lifelong sports lover, Williams believes sports can help kids develop discipline, teach them to respect others, and encourage friendships with students of different races.

He started training his son in football and basketball when the boy was five. “I had got a lot out of it, and I wanted to share what I’ve got with my son.”

More importantly, Williams view sports as a shield to prevent his son from getting into troubles. “Sports keeps him busy and occupied. It can keep him off the streets,” he said. “Richmond has a lot of distractions like drugs and gangs,”

Growing up in Richmond, Williams, now 48, has been living in the city for more than 30 years.

With three wins this season, Richmond High School ends the season with a loss to Pinole Valley High School. But Williams has been very satisfied with his son and the team’s performance this season. “They’re definitely better than last year,” he said.

“He’s been doing good,” Williams said of his son. “Even if he’s not good, I would tell him he’s doing good. Being part of the team is positive. Every one wins.”

Williams said so far he has no worries about his son. The 11th-grader has a B average, and has made a lot of friends from the school’s sports teams.

But Williams said he couldn’t help worrying about his son the night he heard the news of the rape at Richmond High School from TV. He was relieved the second day after his son assured him he was not involved in the case.

“Every one loses. The kids involved in the case lost their respect to the girl,” Williams said of the rape that took place in Richmond High about two weeks ago. “We all lose hearing about this.”

Playing both for the school’s football team and basketball team, Zachary Williams trains for 15 hours a week. With the basketball season beginning next Monday, he has little time to rest between seasons.

“I love both basketball and football,” Zachary said. “My dad keeps pushing me to play sports. He believes it can keep me away from troubles.”

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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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