From the moment she set foot on the Columbia University campus as an assistant coach, Kari Williams
has made an impact on the women's golf program. The 2014-15 school year will mark her ninth season as the head coach. Under Williams’ direction, the Lions have been Ivy League title contenders year-in and year-out.
Through her first seven seasons, her golfers have been named to the All-Ivy League team 11 times, including three in both 2007 and 2008.
Columbia had an outstanding season under Williams' direction in 2013-14, winning three tournaments. The Lions took top honors at the Monterey Bay Invitational, Seton Hall Pirate Invitational and its own Roar-EE Invitational, the first time in the event's eight year history. First team All-Ivy League honoree Michelle Piyapattra won medalist honors at the Bucknell Invitational and the Seton Hall Pirate Invitational, bringing her win total to six in her career. Piyapattra's prolific career under Williams' guidance culminated with her being honored as the Maniatty Award winner at Columbia's Varsity C Celebration as the best female athlete over her four year career. In addition to Piyapattra's two individual wins, sophomore Monique Ishikawa won the Monterey Bay Invitational and the Roar-EE Invitational.
The 2013 season marked a strong team campaign for the Lions, as the team posted five top-five finishes in just eight tournaments. Columbia's top team finish came at the 7th Annual Roar-EE Invitational, where first-years Spenser Krut and Monique Ishikawa each took home a share of the individual title, propelling the Lions to a third-place showing. The Lions concluded the season with a fourth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships. Junior Jane Dong garnered second team All-Ivy League honors, tying for seventh.
In 2012, Williams mentored then-sophomore Michelle Piyapattra ’14CC to arguably greatest individual season in Columbia history. Piyapattra was named Ivy League Player of the Year after she posted an Ivy League-best 74.73 round average with seven top-5 finishes and two tournament victories. Piyapattra also became the first Columbia women’s golfer to compete at the NCAA East Regional since the 2007 team.
In 2011, Piyapattra dominated the field at the Ivy League Championship and took home medalist honors by 10 strokes. Piyapattra earned three victories in her first season at Columbia, including a rain-shortened win at the Columbia-hosted Roar-EE Invitational.
Recent graduate Sara Ovadia ’08CC was the first Columbia golfer in history to earn an Ivy League Individual Championship in 2007. Ovadia turned professional in the summer of 2009 and took home a second-place finish in a Cactus Tour event in September.
In 2007, her first with the Lions, Williams guided the women’s team to its first-ever Ivy League Championship and a berth in the NCAA Championships. Only a sophomore at the time, Ovadia took home medalist honors and then-first-year Stevy Loy closed as the runner-up.
Williams came to Columbia rich with experience in the golf world and beyond. The Evanston, Wy. native played for the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she was a two-time team captain, All-Big West selection with an individual fourth-place finish at the Big West Championships and qualified for the NCAA Regionals as a senior. Williams graduated in 1994 from the Shidler School of Business with a degree in accounting.
Post-graduation, Williams embarked on a professional career that included playing on the Futures, Players West and Kosaido Ladies Asian tours and in LPGA Q-School events.
As an amateur, Williams established herself as the top female high school golfer in Wyoming, winning Wyoming individual state titles in 1988 and 1989. She was also the Utah State Jr. Champion in 1988. While in Hawaii, Williams won the island’s top amateur event, the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational, twice (1994 and 1999) and the Hawaii State Stroke Play Championship in 1995.
Concluding her competitive career in 2002, Williams became a high school teacher at Gilroy High School in California, where she was also named the head coach of three sports, taking over the girls’ basketball program and the boys’ and girls’ golf teams. Williams coached the basketball team to the final four of the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs three consecutive years before coming to Columbia in 2006. Williams is also a member of the USGA, NCGA and NGCA, as well as the Columbia Kayaking Club.
Williams earned a Masters of Science in Sports Management from Columbia in October 2008. She lives in Morningside Heights, close to Columbia’s campus.