At the age of 23, a recent graduate of Wake Forest University drove up to New York City with his manuscript in hand to attend the World Book Convention. After playing only 59 minutes in 4 years on his college team, an undersized walk-on decided to tell the story of a sports experience through the lens of a player who was not the star.
Nearly 24 hours later, Alan Williams was sitting in a room with the editor-in-chief of a major trade publisher. The seasoned book executive was the first to point out that unlike many other sports stories, Walk-On did not end with an unobtainable accomplishment.
In the years to come, people would often approach Alan at book signings, not to comment on his book, but instead to tell their own stories of how they persevered through their struggles in order to be a part of a team.
In 2005, a seventh grader came up to Alan after listening to him speak at a father-son luncheon. He said, “Alan, you’re not going to believe this, but my story is just like yours. I just got cut from my school team, but this off-season, I am going to work as hard as I possibly can because I want to be a member of our team!” This young man’s enthusiasm was a reminder that more athletes need to hear a story that goes beyond individual acclaim. Stories like these led Alan to start Teammates First—a series of programs that dive into the major issues in sports today.
A year later, a group of corporate executives invited Alan to come speak at one of their conventions. What does a 26 year old tell business leaders that they don’t already know? While this question crossed Alan’s mind many times, it was clear that there was a direct correlation between the value of teams in the workplace and on the court. For this reason, Alan has had the opportunity to speak to several businesses including Fortune 500 companies, some of which have taken an interest in promoting Alan’s message of team in athletic communities and schools across the country.
In 2007, when Coach Skip Prosser passed away, Alan and his teammates returned to Winston-Salem to celebrate the life of a coach who had had a profound impact on their lives. During this time, they did not reflect on the 2003 ACC Championship season, but instead the focus shifted to the moments in life that endure. Months later, Alan decided to rewrite parts of Walk-On and re-title it as Teammates Matter.
Today, Teammates Matter is not only the title of one person’s story, but has also evolved into a company dedicated to putting perspective back into team.
As the founder and owner of Teammates Matter, Alan now lives in Nashville with his wife, Amanda whom he met in Oxford, MS in 2005. Last September, they celebrated the birth of their first son, Trammell. Alan continues to share his message of perseverance and team with various groups. He is also passionate about coaching his 15 and under competitive summer basketball team. In his spare time, he enjoys working on a golf swing he can’t seem to perfect.