New England's Coach of the Year both indoors and outdoors in 2017, Joel Williams was hired to lead the Tufts University Men's Track & Field / Cross Country program in November 2015. He is in his fourth season directing the Jumbos.
Last year, Coach Williams guided the Jumbos to their second consecutive New England Division III indoor championship. The team tied for 13th place at the NCAA indoor meet, the program's best NCAA team finish since 2007. Tufts was the highest finishing New England team at the national championship. High jumper Stefan Duvivier won the indoor NCAA title and was the outdoor runner-up.
In 2017, Tufts was 18th at the NCAA Indoor Championships with senior Tim Nichols capturing the 5,000 meters crown. Outdoors, Tufts' 11 national qualifiers was the most in program history and the Jumbos placed 16th at the NCAA meet. Duvivier was the USTFCCCA New England Indoor Field Athlete of the Year and distance runner Luke O'Connor won USTFCCCA New England Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year honors. For the 2017 cross country season, Williams' team had two runners (Nichols and O'Connor) earn All-American honors at the same NCAA Championship for the first time in program history. Nichols won the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and NCAA Regional Championships and was voted the USTFCCCA New England Athlete of the Year.
Coach Williams' Jumbos also perform well academically. The 2017-18 Tufts cross country and men's track & field teams both received All-Academic Team honors as well as earning 14 individual All-Academic honors handed out by the USTFCCCA. Nichols earned 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America® recognition and received the USTFCCCA's Men's Cross Country Scholar Athlete of the Year award. Tufts had the most USTFCCCA All-Academic honorees in the nation for Division III in 2016 with 19.
A national champion as a competitor and the recipient of multiple Coach of the Year awards, Williams came to the Jumbos from Illinois Tech where he was head coach of the men's and women's cross country and track & field programs. In his first season as a head coach at Illinois Tech in 2015, Williams was named Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year for the Association of Division III Independents.
Over the past 19 years, Williams has coached at several institutions, including Williams College in the NESCAC. During his four years at Williams College, Williams was the 2009 (women's) and 2011 (men's) USTFCCCA New England Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Williams graduated from North Central College in 1999 with a BA in physical education. He returned to North Central for graduate school, earning a master’s degree in leadership studies in 2014. While an undergrad at North Central, Williams was a four-time All-American and a 12-time NCAA Championship qualifier in track & field. In 1998, he helped lead North Central to a team national championship in track & field as a member of the Cardinals' national champion 4x100-meter relay foursome.
Upon returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach, Williams was part of the coaching staff that guided North Central to NCAA Division III regional and national team championships in men's cross country in 2012, as well as a regional championship and national runner-up finish in men's cross country in 2013. He worked with 17 NCAA DIII Cross Country and Track & Field All-Americans during his time at North Central.
Williams' strong background in coaching includes other stints at Division I Davidson College and Kent State University, as well as at Division III schools U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Aurora University and Elmhurst College. Including assistant coaching roles in volleyball, he has mentored more than 80 All-Americans, 315 All-Conference and 170 Academic All-Conference athletes.