Greenville High football coach wishes faith-based comments would’ve been shown in ‘Extreme Makeover’ appearance on ABC-TV

One day after his heart-wrenching story was told to a national TV audience, Jeremy Williams was back in his comfort zone on Monday — coaching high school football in rural Georgia.
Some things have changed since last February’s taping for “Extreme Makeover” and Sunday’s night’s broadcast on ABC-TV, while other things have remained the same. Williams is progressively getting weaker from the terminal illness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, but the coach’s faith and determination remain as strong as ever.
Williams had mixed feelings about the final edited version of the TV show.
“The whole experience was such a blessing,” he said. “My family and I are so thankful to so many people for everything they did for us.
“My only disappointment was that they cut my faith-based comments out. I’m the man I am because of God. Not because of my strength, but God’s strength. That’s how I can smile and say I have ALS.
“Everybody around here knows that, but I wish the nation would’ve heard that message, too.”
Williams, 38, has seen his health deteriorate a little further since the end of Greenville’s magical season last November. The Patriots, inspired by the resilient attitude of the fiery coach, posted an undefeated record in the regular season, finally losing in the playoffs to the eventual state champions.
Before Monday’s spring practice at Greenville High, Williams closed his office door and put on an oxygen mask from a portable breathing machine for about five minutes. He uses it 3-4 times per day, including always before heading for the football field, to exercise his lungs.
Williams also had a feeding tube inserted above his rib cage after losing an alarming amount of weight (20 pounds) over a two-week period in February. He still has a healthy appetite and eats regular meals, with the tube providing necessary supplements. He has regained nearly half of the weight.
“They (doctors) said it was from muscle twitching, or fasciculation,” said his wife, Jennifer. “A person like that can burn 1,000 calories per day, and Jeremy couldn’t eat enough to make up for the loss.”
There are also little things noticeable at practice. Rather than parking his golf cart at the gate and walking the rest of the way, as he did last football season, Williams motored onto the field and sat for most of the two-hour workout.
When the coach gave instructions and demonstrations to his players on Monday, he stood for 10-minute intervals and then took a knee to finish observing the drill. He also has been fitted with a brace for his left foot, which was built at a 90-degree angle so Williams doesn’t have to lift his foot as high to carry it over his toes when walking.
Despite all the physical woes, Williams appeared to be upbeat and energetic among his players on Monday. He joked with a couple of freshmen running backs that they might be sitting behind him on sidelines next season if they didn’t learn how to cradle the ball properly. He also yelled with encouragement during five-on-five linemen drills.
But the talk of the day at football practice, around Greenville, and across the state was the family’s appearance on national TV. Rather than extensive remodeling, the “Extreme Makeover” crew bulldozed the Pine Mountain house of Williams, and built a new one to accommodate the health issues of the coach, along with those of his son, Jacob, who was born with spina bifida.
Among the other gifts presented were college scholarships to Columbus State for the couple’s two children, along with CVS picking up all the family’s unpaid medical bills through mid-February. Greenville High benefitted, too, as the athletic fieldhouse was renovated with new carpet and paint, weight-lifting equipment, and a state-of-the art computer editing system for breaking down game film. The Patriots were also awarded $25,000 worth of new uniforms, helmets, pads and shoes.
On Sunday night, Williams and his family watched the show on a big-screen TV with around 200 friends and family members at a firefighter association’s building in Columbus. Jacob, 7, stole the spotlight with his witty and timely comments during the season-ending episode.
“I think it went wonderfully well and was a good depiction of our family,” said Jennifer, who was recognized by customers at the LaGrange Wal-Mart on Monday.
“They had your serious moments, and then they would follow it up with a lighter moment. So there was sniffling, and then there was a lot of laughing, especially when Jacob (chimed in) with comments.”
At school on Monday, the coach was congratulated by teachers and students, and took some good-natured ribbing from his assistants. “What was the deal with that 80s haircut in your prom photo?” joked defensive coordinator Tripp Busby.
Williams said he felt a sense of relief after the broadcast of the show. “We’re very thankful for everything, but we’re ready to get back to us being us … you know, a normal way of life. It was a great experience, but it wears you out being pulled in so many different directions.”

Miss it? Watch Sunday’s “Extreme Makeover” on ABC-TV (click here)

Greenville High football coach Jeremy Williams laughs after being teased on Monday by his assistants about his national TV appearance (Photo by AJC's Curtis Compton)

Greenville High football coach Jeremy Williams laughs after being teased on Monday by his assistants about his national TV appearance (Photo by AJC's Curtis Compton)

Greenville – ONE DAY after his heart-wrenching story was told to a national TV audience, Jeremy Williams was back in his comfort zone on Monday — coaching high school football in rural Georgia.

Some things have changed since last February’s taping for “Extreme Makeover” and Sunday’s night’s broadcast on ABC-TV, while other things have remained the same. Williams is progressively getting weaker from the terminal illness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, but the coach’s faith and determination remain as strong as ever.

Williams had mixed feelings about the final edited version of the TV show.

“The whole experience was such a blessing,” he said. “My family and I are so thankful to so many people for everything they did for us.

“My only disappointment was that they cut my faith-based comments out. I’m the man I am because of God. Not because of my strength, but God’s strength. That’s how I can smile and say I have ALS.

“Everybody around here knows that, but I wish the nation would’ve heard that message, too.”

Williams, 38, has seen his health deteriorate a little further since the end of Greenville’s magical season last November. The Patriots, inspired by the resilient attitude of the fiery coach, posted an undefeated record in the regular season, finally losing in the playoffs to the eventual state champions.

Note to Williams from Greenville OL Kenarious Gates, who signed with UGA (AJC's Curtis Compton)

Note to Williams from Greenville OL Kenarious Gates, who signed with UGA (AJC's Curtis Compton)

Before Monday’s spring practice at Greenville High, Williams closed his office door and put on an oxygen mask from a portable breathing machine for about five minutes. He uses it 3-4 times per day, including always before heading for the football field, to exercise his lungs.

Williams also had a feeding tube inserted above his rib cage after losing an alarming amount of weight (20 pounds) over a two-week period in February. He still has a healthy appetite and eats regular meals, with the tube providing necessary supplements. He has regained nearly half of the weight.

“They (doctors) said it was from muscle twitching, or fasciculation,” said his wife, Jennifer. “A person like that can burn 1,000 calories per day, and Jeremy couldn’t eat enough to make up for the loss.”

There are also little things noticeable at practice. Rather than parking his golf cart at the gate and walking the rest of the way, as he did last football season, Williams motored onto the field and sat for most of the two-hour workout.

When the coach gave instructions and demonstrations to his players on Monday, he stood for 10-minute intervals and then took a knee to finish observing the drill. He also has been fitted with a brace for his left foot, which was built at a 90-degree angle so Williams doesn’t have to lift his foot as high to carry it over his toes when walking.

Despite all the physical woes, Williams appeared to be upbeat and energetic among his players on Monday. He joked with a couple of freshmen running backs that they might be sitting behind him on sidelines next season if they didn’t learn how to cradle the ball properly. He also yelled with encouragement during five-on-five linemen drills.

Monday's spring practice (AJC's Curtis Compton)

Monday's spring practice (AJC's Curtis Compton)

But the talk of the day at football practice, around Greenville, and across the state was the family’s appearance on national TV. Rather than extensive remodeling, the “Extreme Makeover” crew bulldozed the Pine Mountain house of Williams, and built a new one to accommodate the health issues of the coach, along with those of his son, Jacob, who was born with spina bifida.

Among the other gifts presented were college scholarships to Columbus State for the couple’s two children, along with CVS picking up all the family’s unpaid medical bills through mid-February. Greenville High benefitted, too, as the athletic fieldhouse was renovated with new carpet and paint, weight-lifting equipment, and a state-of-the art computer editing system for breaking down game film. The Patriots were also awarded $25,000 worth of new uniforms, helmets, pads and shoes.

On Sunday night, Williams and his family watched the show on a big-screen TV with around 200 friends and family members at a firefighter association’s building in Columbus. Jacob, 7, stole the spotlight with his witty and timely comments during the season-ending episode.

“I think it went wonderfully well and was a good depiction of our family,” said Jennifer, who was recognized by customers at the LaGrange Wal-Mart on Monday.

Home, sweet home, for Williams family (AJC)

Home, sweet home, for Williams family (AJC)

“They had your serious moments, and then they would follow it up with a lighter moment. So there was sniffling, and then there was a lot of laughing, especially when Jacob (chimed in) with comments.”

At school on Monday, the coach was congratulated by teachers and students, and took some good-natured ribbing from his assistants. “What was the deal with that 80s haircut in your prom photo?” joked defensive coordinator Tripp Busby.

Williams said he felt a sense of relief after the broadcast of the show. “We’re very thankful for everything, but we’re ready to get back to us being us … you know, a normal way of life. It was a great experience, but it wears you out being pulled in so many different directions.”

Note: I have been contacted by many people who request the email for Coach Jeremy Williams. It is available on the school’s website (click here).

142 comments Add your comment

Bonnie Goode

May 17th, 2010
9:45 pm

What a great teacher and man you are. Coaches everywhere would do well to model their lives after yours. You have a precious family and I’m glad to read that your trust is in God. We’ll be praying for you and your family.

Karen

May 17th, 2010
9:51 pm

God Bless you Coach Williams. My eyes were not dry while I watched this show.

Howard

May 17th, 2010
9:54 pm

This man’s faith and strength and courage makes anything going on in your life at this minute seem so trivia. Cannot believe they cut out his faith profession and how God had helped him get through all this. That really infuriates me…but then, look how Tim Tebow was criticized and Colt McCoy for showing their faith. I dare say if the coach had been another certain religion, that would have been the lead story.

Jacket Backer

May 17th, 2010
9:54 pm

God bless you coach…..

blu eagle

May 17th, 2010
10:19 pm

What a beautiful family on the outside and inside, just remember for us all Coach, this is our temporary home, we are just passing through. God bless you and your precious family, we are praying for you!

Egbert

May 17th, 2010
10:20 pm

I posted earlier today, commenting on another Coach Williams story, and about his faith. Those of us from the area know that he is vocal about his Christianity. It occurred to me that the PC media might have censored some faith-based comments, but I was hoping not, as his faith is such an integral part of who he is-and of the story. Then it occurred to me that they only showed the fieldhouse and were trying to portray it (and, implicitly, the school) as run-down. But you notice they never showed Greenville High School-because it is beautiful and only a few years old. Didn’t fit the story. Anyway, we all know you can’t trust the media; I remain thankful for the good things that happened to Coach Williams as a result of the show, and for the profound impact his life continues to have in Meriwether County and beyond.

Cavaholic21

May 17th, 2010
10:25 pm

I was most impressed by the fact that this MAN is focusing more on his family than himself. How many “men” would do the same if they were walking in his shoes? In other words, he is not just talking about his faith, he is living it! A true inspriation if there every was one.

Rusty

May 17th, 2010
11:30 pm

I only saw the first 10 minutes of the show (I was at work) but I knew immediately that this was a strong Christian faithed family. This family has restored my faith. God bless them all.

Bob Casey

May 18th, 2010
2:20 am

Wow, what an amazing family this is. Jeremy makes me want to kick myself for complaining of little things. If I were half that man, it would be a blessing. God Bless The Williams Family. You have the prayers and support of I’m sure everyone who watched. Blessings from my family to The Williams Family.

THOMAS T.

May 18th, 2010
2:34 am

I COMMEND MICHAEL CARVELLE AND THE ATLANTA JOURNAL FOR CONTINUE TO FOLLOW AND PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR ONEOF THE BEST STORIES I’VE READ DURING MY 43 YEARS IN ATLANTA. I CANNOT READ ENOUGH ABOUT COACH WILLIAMS!!! I’VE CUT OUT EVERY ARTICLE FROM THE PAPER. COACH WILLIAMS IS A ROLE MODEL AND HERO TO MANY. HE PUTS EVERYONE ELSE AHEAD OF HIMSELF. PLEASE KEEP THE STORIES COMING, AJC! GREAT WORK. HERE’S PRAYING FOR MORE MIRACLES FOR COACH WILLIAMS.

HOP

May 18th, 2010
2:40 am

what a wonderful story about a man and his family who showed the courage to look beyond their fate in life.

you knew that a greater power was at work here despite the apparent move by the national media to censure the show!

the faith and believe of the family came through the program !

GOD BLESS THE COACH AND HIS FAMILY!

M. Reaves

May 18th, 2010
3:06 am

What an inspiration. It’s coaches like you who make an impact on young men and women that remains with them throughout their lives.

TheNumber34

May 18th, 2010
5:55 am

God bless you, Coach Williams.

Dacula

May 18th, 2010
7:33 am

I said the same things to my wife immediately following the show. I commented on how the politically correct, liberal media edited things that I KNEW for certain that Coach Williams had said. Not only is it very troubling to me that they didn’t want his faith mentioned, it’s also very poor journalism because his faith is the main focus of his entire life and his battles everyday. When is this country going to wake up? Coach Williams, you inspire me just thinking about you. I truly believe that you live by one of my favorite quotes:”I can’t even walk without you holding my hand.”

AP

May 18th, 2010
7:38 am

Awesome!!! Can Coach Williams be an honorary coach in Athens for opening weekend? Inspirational!!

Charles

May 18th, 2010
7:57 am

Coach- You’re such an inspiration to the rest of us!! Good luck in the upcoming season!!

A coaches wife and players mom

May 18th, 2010
8:18 am

You are the picture of what all high school coaches should be and your wife is an amazing woman and an incredible coaches wife. You are blessed with faith, hope, and love and a wonderful family.. We will be keeping up with you and wish you nothing but the best in this tough journey. May God be with you always.

Chris

May 18th, 2010
8:23 am

Words cannot express the feelings I have right now………God Bless you, Coach Williams.

Georgia Football

May 18th, 2010
8:24 am

As we say in the south “that’s a good guy right there”

JSmith

May 18th, 2010
8:43 am

I am so touched by the story of this family. What a wonderful example for our young men to follow. Coach Williams you are a beautiful example of hope and faith. From what I have read in the newspaper you are a man who walks the walk and not just talks the talk. May God bless you and your family today and all the days to come. Jeremiah 29:11

Fred Stevens

May 18th, 2010
9:02 am

Where was God when Coach Williams got ALS? Oh, yeah….mysterious ways, ….blah, blah, blah…..

Give praise to the doctors that are keeping him alive.

Shirley Carpenter

May 18th, 2010
9:07 am

I always wonder how real the people benefiting from Extreme Makeover are. I had a feeling your family was one of the real ones. I’m delighted to read the follow-up confirming what I suspected.
And glad to know about your faith providing the strength you have needed.

DILLIGAF

May 18th, 2010
9:16 am

Fred Steven:

“Where was God when Coach Williams got ALS?”

Where was God? Hopefully, he was smiting you when Coach Williams got ALS!

One day you will have the opportunity to ask him as you stand before him.

Pete

May 18th, 2010
9:36 am

Fred, what was the point in saying that?

BK

May 18th, 2010
9:54 am

We need to pray for Fred…
We all know where Coach will be spending eternity!

Paul

May 18th, 2010
10:00 am

I would not care what the edited out, his blessing came in the form of Extreme Home Makeover.

Get a grip and just be thankful instead of being disparaging. One sentence out of probably hundreds gets cut and all of a sudden ABC is anti God or something. If it bothers the coach that much, give it back to prove your conviction.

Fred Stevens

May 18th, 2010
10:04 am

DILLIGAF,

You use that acronym for your ‘name’ and then preach about God? Just another hypocrite….

To the rest of you,

Keep your prayers. I live in the real world, not some fantasy land where you accept all the negative and then thank some almight power for helping you get through it. Why not use your brain and question WHY a God would do something like give a person cancer, ALS, or any other disease in the first place…. You are lemmings. The sooner you take responsiblity for your lives, understand science, and make positive changes yourself instead of sitting there and just ‘praying’, the better life you will have.

Fred

Fred Stevens

May 18th, 2010
10:17 am

To PETE:

My point was pretty simple. Here we have an apparently popular and intelligent coach stricken with a terrible disease, ALS. He gets a wonderful opportunity with the Make-Over Program, and then has the nerve to bitch that his ‘faith based’ comments didn’t make it into the show. All this “faith based” non-sense is all after the fact, and to me the issue is where was God in the first place? That’s where the coach should direct his complaints.

Fred

Linda

May 18th, 2010
10:19 am

Fred, ever think that Jesus Christ might be the real deal and that there is a God out there that is “alive”? Before downing something you know nothing about which is obvious by your comments, how about taking your “supposedly you know it all” atitude and start trying to prove the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ was false. Just be aware…God’s word will never be void. God Bless you Fred.

Ted Striker

May 18th, 2010
10:27 am

The coach may have expressed regret that his faith-based comments were edited out, but it was fairly obvious to everyone I talked to — 5-6 people — that his faith was evident.

I thought the show was well done. Not too much of this, not too little of that.

Karen

May 18th, 2010
10:31 am

Pray for Fred anyway.

JMD

May 18th, 2010
10:33 am

I too wish they had not edited your faith-based comments. But, I could see right through it. It was evident and so clear to me your family is very much a Christian family. I pray for all of you.
Coach – keep up the good work with those young men. You are impacting their lives more than you will ever know.

Larvell "SugarBear" Blanks

May 18th, 2010
11:30 am

You know what I would LOVE TO SEE………Coach Williams leading the DAWGS out onto the field during our border war with those darned Gators! The site of Coach Williams out there with the DAWGS would send one hell of a message to Coach Cryer!

Charley

May 18th, 2010
11:34 am

I truly think this was my favorite makeover of all of them. You and your family are such an inspiration and it was evident from the very beginning that you and your family are God’s children. I know when I say this I speak for all that we will keep you, your loved ones and all the people around you in our prayers. You guys are truly a light in the darkness of this world.

WP

May 18th, 2010
11:41 am

Fred you are gonna make me throw-up. You don’t even know what u r talking about. I was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and 2007. I thank God everyday for my blessings. If it was not for Him I would not be here. Fred you are a moron. Get a life. You need lot of prayers.

What a blessed family. You can really tell they have alot of faith in God. I will be praying for this family everyday.

Fred Stevens

May 18th, 2010
12:07 pm

WP,

YOU are the perfect example. You get Cancer and than thank God for blessing? Why didn’t God save you from the cancer in the first place?

Keep your prayers… I wish you the best that medical science can offer for your cancer recovery.

Fred

Oconee Dawg

May 18th, 2010
12:24 pm

Fred’s missing the point. It’s not about thanking GOD for the disease, but you thank GOD for the blessings that are around you.

Does not need to say it

May 18th, 2010
12:24 pm

I did not need to hear Coach Williams comments on faith to know he is a man of faith. He shows it in his actions and deeds. To me that is the mark of a true man of faith. He walks the walk.

Dee

May 18th, 2010
12:30 pm

It’s pretty obvious Fred hasn’t studied the Bible. If he had he wouldn’t be making such ignorant remarks.

FRED FOR PREZ

May 18th, 2010
12:30 pm

I’m with you Fred. Your only fault is trying to reason with those who have no capacity to reason. I wouldn’t want to worship a god that allows this dude to suffer with a disabilitating disease while his wife and two small children just wait until the day he dies.

Derek

May 18th, 2010
12:32 pm

All; We should just forgive Fred, and move on to people who know what real life is really about. We understand that people like Coach Williams are able to make an impact by believing and loving others, with his positive attitude, even in the situation he’s in. The kind of impact that those of us who have all the material and physical blessings could never have. Thats why god doesn’t prevent some things from happening, somehting you will never understand! FRED……

James

May 18th, 2010
12:33 pm

Fred,

I really feel sorry for you. You seem to ignore (or just don’t understand) what the term “FAITH-based” really means.

Faith is believing in something you can’t see or touch, but you know it’s there. Faith is knowing something will happen before it does.

Most importantly, faith is knowing that God is there now and will be there later.

But by your comments, it’s obvious that you don’t want that.

I have been unemployed for several months now. My faith is giving me hope that I will find a job soon. Without my faith, I wouldliuterally be going crazy.

Just because you don’t have faith doesn’t mean you can slam somebody who does.

God bless you.

James

May 18th, 2010
12:34 pm

That should be “would literally.” Sorry.

Guido

May 18th, 2010
12:38 pm

Easy there Freddie…

I don’t disagree with everything you say, but it’s pretty small-minded to think that the human race is the most evolved, intelligent and powerful creature in existence. True science is predicated on a search for the unknown, not an automatic dismissal for anything that can’t be touched or seen. Of all the closed minds commenting here, yours seems to be locked down the tightest.

Richard

May 18th, 2010
12:41 pm

Fred, You sound like one bitter man. Did God turn his back on you or did you turn your back on him during a time of trouble? You did the turning. Apparently I already pray for you everyday as I pray for the lost. I will continue to do so even if you don’t want them. We are all tested, purified by fire, to give us a stronger testimony. Coach Williams is putting his to good use building good men out of young boys but he was doing that long before he was stricken. Now he is reaching a far larger good of people. Hopefully young people and old alike could see the love that they have as a family and maybe some will realize that whatever difficults they are facing are not nearly as tough as they thought.

Derek

May 18th, 2010
12:42 pm

PS> BTW ; Fred , theres always a saying for those who attack those of faith, “Get Thee Behind Me Satan”

Mike Layman

May 18th, 2010
12:42 pm

Fred,

The problem that you have is that you think there is nothing more than living and dying in this world. I know that this world is just a temporary stop. How do I know this? I BELIEVE. This world is owned by Satan. God could intervene if He so chooses but he has given us a free will to do as we wish. But, along with that free will is Satan’s control over what happens in this world. What I know and believe is that one day my existence in this world will end and I am guarenteed a spot in God’s world. For you, when you die, that’s it. I will pray for you and hope that one day you will understand. As for leaving it in the hands of the doctors – well, I am fine with that because I know where they get their inspiration from, as well.

Savant

May 18th, 2010
12:45 pm

I’m with those who are proposing having Coach Williams honored at a UGA game. You could just see his face light up when he said “an old Georgia boy” when they announced Hines Ward as a Pittsburg Steeler. I think Coach would be tickled by the notion. And with Richt’s strong faith, he’d probably also be proud to have a strong Christian man honored in Sanford Stadium.

Faith?

May 18th, 2010
12:51 pm

Fred you are dead on.

If coach was muslim or buddist and had another “God” they would be supporting you. Religion or Faith is just a crutch for people. I don’t want to put anybody down beacuse if that is what helps you get through the day the more power to you. My family is religous I just tend to look at stuff in a more literal light. Everybody doesn’t need religon crammed down their throat.

Coach seems like a great man and wish him and his family nothing but the best.

Focus

May 18th, 2010
12:54 pm

This story is about Coach Williams…don’t let Fred (Satan) distract you from that. Ignore him!