August 25, 2003

Love of sports lured Williams away from law career

Gene Williams finally saw the light. The possibilities were too obvious to ignore.

Eight years into a law career, he began to recognize the opportunity of a career in sports web publishing. Even better, he saw that he could do it while covering his favorite school, Florida State, and interact with other Seminole fans.

So Williams walked away from law and devoted full-time energies to Warchant.com. Today, his site is the best on the Rivals.com network and is described by Rivals.com president Shannon Terry as "the best college team site on the internet."

Who can argue? Warchant.com offers the most comprehensive FSU sports coverage to be found anywhere. The site's message board attracts thousands of fans and creates the ultimate "community experience" for Seminole followers.

Williams is so respected that Rivals.com asked him to give presentations during the company's annual Publishers' Conference in June. Warchant.com has become the standard by which all other team websites will be measured.

"No other site on our network, or on the entire Internet, for that matter, can equal Warchant.com in terms of news coverage, recruiting news, message board activity and unique offerings like video clips," Terry said. "It's simply the best college team site you're going to see. It's the standard that other sites on the Rivals network are judged by.

"Gene understands what works and what doesn't work, and he deserves a lot of credit."

As a hobby, Williams launched a Florida State fan site in 1995. It offered football recruiting information and quickly increased in popularity.

"It just grew more and more every year," Williams said. "Eventually it got to the point where I practiced law part-time to devote more time to the website. Then about a year later, I took the plunge and went full-time."

Leaving the world of law was not easy for Williams. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native had received an undergraduate degree from FSU and law degree from Stetson and was in the midst of a career mostly centered around insurance defense and workers' compensation defense. Even today, he remains a member of the Florida Bar Association.

His wife encouraged him to make the career transition, and there have been no regrets.

"I had a fruitful career in law financially, but I figured I was young enough to do it and didn't have kids at the time," Williams said. "My wife said, 'If you're going to do it, now is the time.' She called it my obsession, now it's my career."

The "obsession" began during his undergraduate days at FSU in the 1980s as the Seminoles were becoming one of college football's perennial powerhouses.

"Once I went to a game, heard the crowd, heard the war chant and saw Chief Osceola, I was hooked," Williams said.

Williams is proud of Warchant.com and its evolution since 1995.

"If you are a Seminole fan, everything you could possibly want is on Warchant.com," he said. "We keep our users updated with a lot of stories covering the three major sports and football recruiting. We almost always have breaking news before any other media outlet. Our message boards are far and away more active than any other FSU site, plus we have a variety of interesting features and cutting-edge technology."

Williams lives in Tallahassee, Fla., with his wife, Stacy and 2-year-old daughter Kayley.

This is the latest in a new series of Rivals.com Publisher Profiles, where readers can learn more about the people who provide daily news and updates. While Williams' story might seem unique, the network is full of interesting stories. We'll be bringing you more of them from time to time here on Rivals.com.



 

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