Two-time world champion Danielle Williams, sister Shermaine Williams, and Coach Lennox Graham inducted into Johnson C. Smith University’s Athletics Hall of Fame

By September 10, 2023
2023 World 100m hurdles champion Danielle Williams (left), Coach Lennox Graham and Shermaine Williams celebrate being inducted into the Johnson C Smith University's Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, September 8. 2023 World 100m hurdles champion Danielle Williams (left), Coach Lennox Graham and Shermaine Williams celebrate being inducted into the Johnson C Smith University's Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, September 8. Contributed

On Friday night, September 8, 2023, Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) celebrated the induction of three outstanding individuals into its Athletics Hall of Fame. Among the honorees were the 2023 World 100m hurdles champion Danielle Williams, her sister Shermaine Williams, and their esteemed coach Lennox Graham.

Danielle Williams, who has had a stellar career in track and field, expressed her deep appreciation for the prestigious honor. She noted that being inducted into the Hall of Fame was a major accomplishment and a recognition of her remarkable achievements during her college years at JCSU.

Those achievements were encapsulated in her legendary seasons in 2013 and 2014 when she won nine NCAA titles (eight individual, one relay), 13 CIAA championships (11 individual, two relay), earned 13 All-America honors and was named either USTFCCCA National Women’s Indoor Track or Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year three times.

She turned in arguably the greatest two-day performance in NCAA DII history at the 2013 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Pueblo, Colorado, where she helped lead the Golden Bulls to their second consecutive runner-up finish in the team standings.

The future world champion scored 30½ points thanks to event titles in the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay, as well as a runner-up finish in the 100m hurdles. She also set divisional records in the 200m (22.62) and 4×100 relay (44.05), clocked the second fastest performance in divisional history in the 100mh(12.89) and notched the fifth fastest performance in the 100 (11.24).

In a four-year span, she was the third athlete from Johnson C. Smith inducted into the USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame following in the footsteps of Leford Green (Class of 2017) and her sister Shermaine Williams (Class of 2018).

"Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a prestigious honor. I never thought it a big deal when they told me in May, but being there last night (Friday), amongst the other inductees, I realized that it is indeed a big deal and a major accomplishment. Only 130 people in the entire history of JCSU have been inducted, and I am the youngest ever inductee, and that in itself is spectacular," said Williams in an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV

The experience was not only humbling but also exciting for Williams, who admitted that she does not often take the time to celebrate her own accomplishments. She shared, "The most memorable moment of the entire weekend was not just seeing people I haven't seen in so many years, but just hearing that so many of these folks watched the race (her gold medal run in Budapest) and have been keeping up with my exploits since I graduated, was magnificent to hear."

Williams won the 100m hurdles at the 2015 World Championships and continued her success by capturing the 2023 World 100m hurdles title in Budapest last month. This victory added an extra layer of significance to the Hall of Fame induction, as her family was present to witness the double celebration.

Williams expressed her gratitude for the support of her sister and coach, saying, "Being there with coach Lennox and Shermaine was a full-circle moment. We all started this journey together, and so to be able to celebrate with them was pure joy. Both of them are instrumental in the athlete I am today. Shermaine because she was the first in our family to transcend to new levels in athletics; making national teams and breaking records, her hard work, discipline, and determination were the catalyst and the inspiration for me when I started to compete. Coach took me from an inexperienced teenager with many flaws to a collegiate champion many times over and world champion. I thank God for both of them on this journey."

Coach Lennox Graham, who has been a pivotal figure in the success of the Williams sisters, speaking exclusively with Sportsmax.TV, also shared his thoughts on being inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside his athletes. He expressed his appreciation for the honor and recognized the significance of going in with both the Williams sisters.

"To be going in with Shermaine Williams and Danielle Williams is particularly satisfying because, I mean, it was our own JCSU Williams sisters. As you know, Shermaine and Danielle were the first female siblings to make the same World Championship final in 2015 in Beijing, when Danielle won the World Championships in the 100m hurdles and Shermaine was seventh. So those are things that it's impossible to forget," said Graham who won four national titles with JSCU and a number of Central Inter-Collegiate Athletics Association conference titles during his tenure.

Graham had an immediate impact on JCSU after being appointed head coach of the men’s and women’s programme in 2007.

He racked up an impressive resume that included being named 2015-16 Atlantic Region Women’s Track and Field Head Coach of the Year, 2015-16 CIAA Outdoor Women’s Track and Field Head Coach of the Year and 2013-2014 CIAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.

He was also honoured as the 2013-2014 CIAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, 2012-2013 USTFCCCA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field National Coach of the Year (a First in JCSU history), 2012-2013 USTFCCCA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (Atlantic Region), 2012-2013 USTFCCCA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (Atlantic Region), 2012-2013 CIAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, 2012-2013 CIAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, 2011-2012 CIAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, 2010-2011 CIAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, 2009-2010 CIAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year,  and 2008-2009 CIAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.

He emphasized the importance of treasuring such moments and reflecting on one's accomplishments, saying, "Back in the day, then I wasn't one to celebrate a lot, I was always on to the next, but I've grown a little bit older and realized that you must treasure these moments a little bit more. So it means more to me now than it did then. But it's great, it's a great feeling. It's an awesome achievement and recognition, and I just give thanks for it."

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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