Early in the school year, when Flagler Palm Coast High School needed to add a female PE teacher, Principal Bobby Bossardet asked Dave Halliday if he knew anybody. Halliday asked for a day or two to think about it.
This was a chance for Halliday, the Bulldogs' head cross country and track and field coach, to add a female track coach to his staff.
"We have desperately needed a female on the staff," he said.
But he couldn't think of anybody until one of his assistants mentioned the obvious: Alycia Williams — the most decorated female track athlete in county history.
The match turned out to be perfect. Halliday has been the head coach of the boys and girls track and cross country teams for 14 of his 19 years at the school. This was a chance for a woman to take over the girls track team, with Halliday concentrating on the boys team while still directing the overall program.
Williams had been the head track coach at Hickory Ridge High School outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. She led two relay teams to national championships at the adidas Nationals in June. She wasn't thinking about leaving the area where her twin sister, Alyce, is also a teacher and track coach. But Halliday's inquiry came at the right time.
"He randomly sent me a text in October, 'Hey, do you want to come back home?' You know what? It worked out perfectly," she said. "My lease was up. My parents still live here. They're in their mid- to late-'80s. My kids would get to spend time with their grandparents. So, it was just better to come home."
Williams has been at FPC for about three weeks, and she said everything has been seamless. She said she knew about half of her co-workers coming in.
The Williams' twins graduated from FPC in 2001. Alycia owns the school records in the 100, 200, 400 and 800. Alyce owns the school records in the long jump and triple jump.
Getting Alycia (Williams) is a win for the program. I know she can coach, and once we talked, she was really excited."
— DAVE HALLIDAY
Alycia won state championships in the 400 and 200 her junior year, setting a state record in the 400. In her senior year, she finished second in the 400 to Sanya Richards of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, who went on to win the 2009 world championship and the 2012 Olympic championship in the 400 meters.
Alicia and Alyce went on to run track at George Mason University and Florida State. The twins were co-captains at FSU, and Alycia was an All-American in the 4x400 relay.
The Bulldogs' track and field teams began offseason conditioning this week. Williams said she has been impressed with how organized the teams are. She is not the only new coach with the program. Longtime Spruce Creek throws coach, Paul Spegele, has joined the Bulldogs. And former FPC and Bethune-Cookman University football star Jimmie Robinson will help Williams coach the sprinters. Robinson and Spegele are both also assistant coaches with the football team.
"Every event coach has a common goal of how can we just be great," Alycia Williams said. "At the coaches' meetings, everybody's receptive of what the other coaches are saying. We have people that are jumpers and sprinters — both of our programs work together. I think that's rare. I haven't seen that. When I say we're organized, we're very organized. We're hitting the ground running."
Having coaches like Robinson and Williams returning to FPC provides the kids with role models they can relate to, Halliday said.
"The kids can see they're from here and say, 'they were just like me,'" Halliday said. "Getting Alycia is a win for the program. I know she can coach, and once we talked, she was really excited."