John Williamson has taken the Commodores to the NCAA Championship in 2007 and has been voted the national "Coach of the Year" but he is equally proud of his team's academic leadership position on the highly competitive Vanderbilt campus.
"We seek out exceptional student-athletes," Williamson says, "and we challenge them from the start that this is not the easy option. What we have is a team of highly motivated young women who pride themselves in achieving on multiple fronts. It's not just bowling here. It's not just academics. Our goals are high."
Williamson has developed strong traditions in a brief time. Already the program has won two national player of the year and five first-team All-American awards, 26 academic All-Americans, two national Rookies of the Year and one runner-up, and one Vanderbilt scholar-athlete of the year. The program annually achieves cumulative grade point averages well over 3.0 and ranks highly among other Vanderbilt varsity programs.
It has been invited to the White House by the President. Many of the nation's premier junior bowlers see it as their program of choice. He has become a championship coach by placing his highest priority on the overall development of his student-athletes and not merely their bowling averages. The team's academic success is impressive, even inside Vanderbilt's 17th rated university.
Williamson plays a leadership role in the National Tenpins Coaches Association since its inception. He has been president; he has been active in the monthly polling process and helped develop the organization's first web site.
He was director of sport operations for the nationally ranked Vanderbilt baseball program when he was tapped to begin the school's bowling program in 2004. His first recruiting class finished fifth at the 2006 NCAA Championship and their national title in 2007 surprised outsiders by the speed in which it arrived.
Prior to his service with VU's baseball team, he was in Vanderbilt's athletic development office. He is a native of Franklin, Tenn., and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He was a member of the Ole Miss football team for two seasons after earning all-state football and all-district baseball honors at Nashville's Franklin Road Academy, where he is a member of its Athletic Hall of Fame.
He and his wife Melissa reside in Brentwood with their three German Shorthairs and one Miniature Yorkie.