Mineral Wells Area News

Local Coach Experienced Legacy of Leach

Local Coach Experienced Legacy of Leach
December 27
08:48 2022

College Football Coach Mike Leach Left a Legacy of Bold Moves and a MWHS Football Coach Knows First Hand the Impact of that Legacy

Mississippi State University football coach Mike Leach suddenly passed away from heart disease complications in December and since his death, the stories shared about his coaching impact have come in droves, but it was his experience at Texas Tech University that turns his tragic death into a local story.

Lots of people in the community are aware of the local tie to Mike Leach, but with so many newcomers in the area, MWAN wanted to re-share the story of Mineral Wells High School Football Coach Matt Williams. He knows first hand what opportunities a great coach can create in a young person’s life.

MWHS Football and Girls Soccer Coach Matt Williams Landed a Job at Texas Tech University Under Mike Leach After Winning a Student Kicking Contest Which Earned Him a Spot on the Team

Williams met Leach after after winning a local field goal kicking contest offered to the general student population at Texas Tech University. Williams would eventually go on to earn a spot as the kicker for the Red Raiders.

William’s recently retold his extraordinary collegiate story to Birmingham’s WMTV-13 News Anchor Rick Karle, and explains the life changing opportunity he received from Leach, as posted on the journalists’ social media page:

They said goodbye to Mike Leach today.

Family and friends gathered in Starkville to remember a man we will never forget.

One young man was thinking of Coach Leach today.

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A young man who would like to honor his former coach with one of the most precious Mike Leach stories ever.

It was 2008, and Matt Williams had just enrolled at Texas Tech University. The former high school kicker walked on at Division II Tarleton State a short time prior, but it wasn’t for him.

He followed his heart and joined his brother in Lubbock. Matt Williams became a normal student enjoying the Texas Tech campus life.

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Matt Williams saw the flier and told himself, “I can do that.” Kick a 30 yard field goal during a Texas Tech game and win 6 months free rent at Lynwood Townhomes? Now, that would be a way to make a splash on campus. All Matt needed was some luck, as he waited to see if his name was called by the PA announcer.

Matt Williams found himself living a dream.
His name called, he made his way down the ramp and onto the field during a Red Raiders game. The other contestants missed their field goals, but Matt took two steps and nailed it.

Free rent it was.

As Matt was making his way back up the ramp, a Texas Tech strength and conditioning coach approached Matt.

“Coach Leach wants to see you,” said the assistant.

Mike Leach left a coaching legacy when he passed away from a heart disease complications in December

“That Mike Leach?” answered Matt.

Before Matt Williams knew it, Coach Mike Leach had asked Matt if he’d like to join the team. Yes, the Texas Tech coach found his new placekicker in a promotional student contest.

Matt showed up at practice the following Monday and kicked the ball around a bit. The Red Raider kickers were struggling, and Coach Leach was up to taking a chance.

After 5 weeks, the NCAA approved of Matt joining the team. “Lynwood” as they called him, went 9-for-9 on extra points in his first game.

What was it like playing for Coach Leach?

“As long as you were on his side, you were set,” Matt tells me.

Of course, Matt was eccentric like his coach.
Matt is the kicker who during practice filled soda cans with rocks and strapped them around his head to simulate crowd noise.

I asked Matt to tell me a funny Mike Leach story, and he obliged.

“One year I was really sick- I had meningitis- I had to stay in the hospital for a number of days. I finally got back to practice but was still weak. Coach Leach approached me with a question.”

Matt Williams with Wife Tiffany

“’Can you take three simple steps and kick a football?,” asked the coach. I said ‘Yes’, and coach said, ‘Good, get suited up, you’re playing.’”

Matt Williams is 35 years old today- he’s a history teacher at Mineral Wells High School in Texas- Coach Leach would love that.

Matt is also the special teams coach of the football team and the girls soccer coach.

His wife Tiffany and his children Peyton and Kyndal are the joys of his life. And seemingly every other day, someone asks Matt about how he became a Texas Tech 3-year starter by being plucked from a fan contest.

Matt finished up a stellar career in Lubbock by making 149 of 150 extra points and 22 of 28 field goals.

Matt Williams coaching his MWHS Rams in 2022

And as he recalls the day that Coach Leach picked him out of a crowd, he smiles broadly.

“It didn’t surprise me at all that Coach Leach would do something like that,” Matt tells me.

“Coach Leach was one of a kind. I’ll miss him.”

*Pictures courtesy Matt Williams
Texas Tech University Mississippi State Athletics Mississippi State University SEC Network Southeastern Conference Paul Finebaum #MikeLeach

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Amy Bearden

Amy Bearden is the Publisher/Editor of Mineral Wells Area News and loves celebrating her favorite town by telling the stories of the people in the community. Amy has a passion for local sports, news and business development. She spent 10 years marketing a professional sports team and is now focused on growing the cultural wellness and creative arts space throughout the area. Amy has four kids, two dogs and a garden she cherishes, along with her yoga mat.