BY TED SHOCKLEY, Eastern Shore Post
Adairius Williams’ story of going to college is the quintessential Eastern Shore tale of how a community chips in to raise its youngsters.
Williams, the newly hired director of parks and recreation for Marlboro County, S.C., cried as he told it, which sometimes happens when we think back on those who helped us succeed.
A Northampton County native, Williams said his family wasn’t able to take him to Virginia State University to show him around.
So his football coach, Joe Ortelli, took him “on his own dollar,” said Williams, a 2008 graduate of Northampton High School.
“Going to college changed my life,” he said. “I would not have been able to do it without Ortelli. He put the battery in my back.
“I am forever appreciative of him.”
Rich and Faye Wilfong, two longtime Northampton educators, paid Williams’ housing deposit at Virginia State. It’s where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management.
Williams remembers his other influencial teachers and mentors — Ann Terry, James Morris, Christy Boswell, Subrina Parker, and so many others. He thinks of their roles in his life and works to be that person for others.
As a high-school student, he worked summers as a site director and camp counselor for Northampton County Parks and Receation.
“I started my recreational jouney in Northampton County way before I knew it was a profession,” he said.
After graduation, Parker gave Williams the opportunity to work in the county where he was raised, as a tutor and a middle-school athletic director.
It soon became obvious that getting people involved in recreational opportunties would become a career.
First, he took a job as athletic supervisor of Suffolk’s parks and recreation department. Then, he moved to South Carolina to become the community outreach coordinator for Richland County.
In his current position in Marlboro County, “my job is to make sure people are enjoying themsevles during their leisure time,” he said.
“I make sure the community is aware of the opportunities that we have and that they are living as healthy as possible.”
Williams’ mom, Angela Williams, and aunt, Marian Ames, still live in the Cape Charles area. His younger brother is a registered nurse and his younger sister is a teacher. Williams is married with a young child and one on the way.
For young people, recreational sports and activities are among their first opportunities for leadership training, he said. He speaks from experience.
Participating in recreational opportunities as a child, he developed leadership experience and learned to stay out of trouble.
“I always tell people that recreation helped to save my life,” he said.Now he’s hard at work being the type of mentor he always had — the types of mentors who change lives.