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Kyle Hildebrand
ASU Student Journalist

Centennial welcomes new season and new coach

March 2, 2020 by Kyle Hildebrand, Arizona State University


Williams addresses his team on the importance of building relationships and playing as a team before practice. (Photo taken by Kyle Hildebrand/AZPreps365)

Kyle Hildebrand is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Centennial High School for AZPreps365.com

“Prepared,” “energetic,” and “committed.” That’s coach Jon Williams.

Centennial baseball is focused on a fresh start in Williams’ first season as the head coach.

One moment he was coaching his son, the next he was Centennial’s next head coach.

“I always wanted to be a high school varsity baseball coach,” Williams said. “I was excited; I was thrilled.

It’s really an honor to get an opportunity to coach here and be a part of the community that Centennial is.”

Williams received the interview call unexpectedly while in an elevator in Omaha, Nebraska attending the SlumpBuster college baseball tournament.

“I thought it happened awfully quick,” Williams said. “I felt like I bombed the interview, but it went great.”

After a successful follow-up interview, Williams learned he was Centennial’s fourth head coach in seven years while coaching his son. He has been coaching baseball for 11 years.

The team is using the hiring as motivation.

“I was ecstatic,” said assistant coach Jeff Gahan, who has been with the program for seven years. “I was very excited that Jon got [the position].”

He’s energetic, he holds the kids accountable and [is] extremely knowledgeable about baseball.”

Despite his experience in the program, Gahan said he is still learning things from Williams.

Gahan said the program needed: “stability.”

“We haven’t had it for a while,” Gahan said. “I’m hopeful he gets the opportunity to do this for several years. I think he’ll do a fantastic job.”

Williams is also hopeful for a lengthy career at Centennial that lasts at least 10 years he said.

Williams biggest coaching points are building relationships and to continuously grow as a player.

Freshman infielder Cristian Mogen, whom Williams has coached for seven years, is a prime example of this philosophy.

“[When we play] everything’s got to be a max one hundred percent,” Mogen said as he reflected on his little league days with Williams. “Growth is a main result you want to have.”

Mogen credited his early high school athletic success to Williams.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” Mogen said. “The advice that he gives and everything he’s taught me; it’s put me to the next level.”

Gahan and Mogen said they admire how prepared Williams is no matter the situation.

“He always has a plan; he knows what we need to work on,” Mogen said. “He’s committed to this; the best coach I’ve had.”

“He’s a very strong leader,” Gahan said. “One of his best traits is he’s just so very organized.”

Williams will make his head coach debut on Tuesday against Millennium.