William Riley inducted into inaugural Stillman Hall of Fame Class of 2023

By WVUA-23 Sports Reporter Jason Williams

William Riley is officially a hall of fame coach at his alma mater.

Last week, he was part of the six-person class inducted into the Stillman College athletic hall of fame.

Riley served as the head coach of the Tigers men’s and women’s tennis teams for more than two decades. Under Riley’s leadership, the team collected 818 wins to 316 losses. He won SIAC Coach of the Year five times and received many more accolades under his tenure.

“When I found out I told my wife and I was really, really happy,” Riley said. “It made me feel really good to know that that they were still thinking about me, and I was inducted into the first class and that means a whole lot being a part of the inaugural class.”

However, his tennis story almost never happened.

Riley grew up in Mississippi where his first love was football. He grew up playing football all the way through his high school years. However, one day while he was in middle school, he received a visit from Holmes County Community College head tennis coach. The coach asked Riley if he wanted to try out tennis one day.

“I said no – ‘Tennis is a girl sport’,” Riley remembers thinking. “He said I bet if you come out here a few times you’ll like it and you won’t think that way.”

There was no tennis team at Riley’s high school. During the weekends and after football season was over, Riley would ride over with the coach to his tennis facility and learn how to play the sport. He did this all four years of high school.

Riley would attend Stillman College and play tennis all four years. As soon as his playing career ended, his coaching career began. Riley became head coach of the tennis team in 1993.

He was the head coach of the men’s and women’s teams for 23 years. In addition to coaching student-athletes, Wiley worked with disadvantaged groups, providing free lessons to students and adults in West Alabama communities. At these clinics the kids would get free rackets, free lunches, and get to learn from the coach.  These clinics would have kids of all ages attend them.

“He just loved tennis,” says Dr. Sharon Whittaker, a longtime friend. “It did not matter what the age level was in terms of who he taught or who he wanted to share that experience with.”

Whittaker had worked with Riley for the entirety of his coaching tenure as she was a Stillman employee as well.

Since moving on from Stillman Riley has moved on and coached at Coppin State University in Maryland, Clark-Atlanta University in Georgia, Bethel College in Kansas, and Brescia University in Kentucky.


Categories: College Sports, Sports, Stillman College