Chapter 10: Bryce’s Vocabulary: Coach Roy Williams’ Good Example


In chapter 10,  “Bryce’s Vocabulary,”of A Splash of Kindness: The Ripple Effect of Compassion, Courage & Character,  I talk about how a man, Bryce Van Wagoner, had a life long effect on my life.  When I was 13 or 14 I witnessed how he expressed himself in an unexpected moment of intense pain.  He didn’t swear or cuss.  Instead, he used “G rated” words to communicate his frustration.

In a similar fashion, basketball Coach Roy Williams tries to be a good example to his player by avoiding hard core profanity.

The following article by Luke Kerr-Dineen offers more insight into coach Williams’ choice of words.


UNC Coach Roy Williams doesn’t like to swear. Here are the words he uses instead.

One of the most endearing things about UNC coach Roy Williams – apart from the fact that he’s a really good basketball coach, of course – is his old-timey nature. One of the ways that manifests is Williams’ refusal to swear around his players, so he can set a good example. His players have at times nicknamed him “Mr. Perfect” as a result.


Williams told reporters last March that he responded to that by intentionally letting a curse word fly in his first press conference after hearing about the nickname, a decision he now regrets. The many words he uses now in place of cursing represent a happy medium born from his childhood roots in Marion, N.C.

“I try not to set a bad example for players cursing all the time,” Williams said. “I’m just being Roy. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But I’ve never tried to be anybody else.”


In addition to Williams’ many euphemisms for curse words, he also has some memorable terms of endearment. A guard who plays through injury is often called a “little sucker” or a “tough little nut.” Other players might earn the moniker “rascal” after a particularly feisty performance.

You never want to be called a “Loonytune” or “Wackadoo” though. Those are reserved for when Williams is displeased.

“Sometimes he’ll make some analogies that we don’t get,” White said. “Old-timer things that we have to look up. If he tries to talk about Twitter, he’ll say Tweeter or stuff like that.

“There’s definitely a generation gap between us, but he’s a great coach to play for. That’s what we love about him is that he’s always genuine, he speaks his mind and he doesn’t beat around the bush.”

So, what words does he use instead?

“Blankety Blank”


(he uses this one a lot)

“Give a flip”

“Jiminy Christmas”

“Little sucker”

“Tough little nut”





“Gosh Darnit”

“One-arm swingers”

“Garbage men”


“Kind of thing”

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