Playing for Jesse: Georgia Thunder look to make late owner proud - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Playing for Jesse: Georgia Thunder look to make late owner proud

Jessica Williams and the squad (Source: WALB) Jessica Williams and the squad (Source: WALB)
The thunder practice on a field on the south side of Douglas (Source: WALB) The thunder practice on a field on the south side of Douglas (Source: WALB)
DOUGLAS, GA (WALB) -

On an obscure, and often untended field in the outskirts of Douglas Georgia, a football team unites under two causes, and neither has much to do with the pigskin.

The Georgia Thunder will have its inaugural season in the World Developmental Football League starting in June.

And the anticipation is palpable.

“It’s going to feel good to put those pads on, that jersey and play in front of some fans," said quarterback Stacey Williams. 

But the team previously known as the South Georgia Bombers didn’t always think they would have a season.

Last July the team’s owner and head coach Jesse Williams III passed from a heart attack.

Today, his own child who never played a lick of football assumes both his roles.

And never playing the sport is only one thing unorthodox about her.

“You know if you have a female manager that you work with," said female head coach and owner Jessica Williams. "If they tell you ‘hey I need you to do this’ you do that because that’s your job. I expect the same thing from my players.”

In her pink striped socks, Coach Jessica Williams demands the same respect her late father did.

So much so that players like wide receiver William Walker were ready to quit football after his death.

Coach Jessica convinced them otherwise.

“She was like ‘well I’m coaching the team’ so I was like, I’m coming back then," exclaimed Walker. "As long she’s here, we’re doing it for him.”

“The players wanted to play in his memory so I was like I’ll try and do this one more time and that’s why we’re here," said Coach Williams.

They will enter each of their eight games this season fighting for Jesse.

But that’s not the only reason they lace up their cleats.

Aptly named, the Georgia Thunder want to be heard.

“The guys decided we want to do something positive," said Coach Williams. "So we’re going to be out in the community trying to do things to say hey there are other things you can do than trying to get in trouble.”

“This is what we want to do as our part of giving back to the youth and some of the parents that don’t have a chance to take their kids to a pro football game," said Stacey.

Not only are they on a mission, but the players work for free. They give up 13 hours week on the untamed field off Bowen Mills Road.

And there only hope is to honor their fallen leader, and uplift the fans in south Georgia who will join them.

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