PALATINE HILL -- In their quest for the team's first Northwest Conference championship since 2013, the Lewis & Clark Pioneers will turn to the last student-athlete to lead them to a title as Kristina Williams has been promoted to head coach. Director of Physical Education and Athletics Shana Levine made the announcement on Friday.
Over the last two seasons, Williams has been the primary assistant coach on the staff that helped the Pios to back-to-back NWC tournament appearances and 30 wins. Williams replaces Pamela Findlay who accepted the head coaching position at Macalester.
"First off, thank you Shana Levine and Dean of Student Life Anna Gonzalez for believing in my ability to step into the head coaching role at Lewis & Clark," said Williams. "To come full circle from student-athlete to head coach at my alma mater is a dream come true. I am very excited about the future of our program and to have the opportunity to continue to give back to the student-athletes here the same way my mentors did for me."
"Few have embodied Building Champions like Kristina has over the last decade," said Levine. "Having one of our most esteemed student-athletes return as a coach and make an immediate impact on a program shows what she is capable of achieving. I can't wait to see how Kristina will further her impact throughout the entire Lewis & Clark community in the coming years."
Following her four years competing for the Pioneers from 2009-13, Williams coached at Oak Ridge High School in California before pursuing a master's degree at Smith College in Massachusetts. There, she was on the women's basketball coaching staff and served as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Williams led the Pioneers to the NWC title in 2013, the same year she earned her second NWC Player of the Year award. She was named an All-American following her senior season in 2013 and finished her career second all-time in school history for scoring (1,790 points). Williams is in the top 10 in rebounds, assists and steals as well. Over her four seasons at Lewis & Clark, she was selected the Lois Smithwick Female Athlete of the Year, the department's top award, three times.
Before Williams returned to Palatine Hill on Findlay's staff, the Pioneers had won 11 games over two seasons. Under the new coaching staff, the team's core group of six student-athletes finished their upperclassmen seasons with 30 wins and qualified for the 2017 and 2018 NWC tournaments.
Since 1993, the Pioneers have the third-most outright NWC titles in the nine-team conference. Following the 2016-17 season, Ayisat Afolabi was named an All-American, the first since Williams, and was selected the Lois Smithwick Female Athlete of the Year. Last season, Miyah Leith was named Lewis & Clark's top female student-athlete and finished her career seventh all-time in scoring.