Elizabeth Williams: Willing To Work
Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S./Virginia Beach, Va.) is in a familiar position this week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. One of 36 participants in the 2010 USA U17 World Championship/Youth Olympic Games Team Trials, which are being held June 8-11 at the USOTC, Williams is also one of 10 players who earned gold medals with the USA at the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women last summer in Mexico City.
Named MVP of the U16 Championship and the USA's second-leading scorer (13.4 ppg.) and leading rebounder (5.2 rpg.), Williams averaged 17.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 5.5 blocks per game in 2009-10 to help her high school back to the Virginia 3A state championship game after winning the 3A title in 2009.
'We definitely were looking for a repeat and fell short,' Williams said, clearly still a little dissapointed. 'It was a tough loss. It happens. I think now, definitley this coming year, our team is going to come out with a different mentality. Everyone will play their roles a little better. Understand what we have to do and listen to our coach for us to be succesful.'
With a growing list of accomplishments and awards to her credit, Wiliams know a little something about success, including that it isn't gauranteed. With 36 athletes competing for one of 12 spots on the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team or one of four openings on the 2010 USA Youth Olympic Games Team, it's a new year and a new trials.
'Getting ready for trials, I got a lot more shots up this year than I did last year,' Williams said. 'I think I was in pretty good shape last year, so I stuck to that program.
I got to take all my exams early, so last week was a little stressful. I took my exams early so I could come here and not have to worry about school anymore. It feels great to be done with school. I'm really excited about that, and I'm glad I don't have to think about it anymore.'
Knowing what to expect has helped Williams prepare for trials without putting to much pressure on herself, but she is not the only one who returns with experience. In addition to her nine 2009 USA teammates, 13 additional players also gained valuable experience during trials in 2009.
'I don't really feel pressured,' Williams admitted. 'Coming back from last year, I have a little different mentality. I can play with more confidence. I think it will be really competitive. A lot of us were here last year, and we know what the committee is looking for. I think it will be a lot harder to make the team than it was last year.
'I think the committee wants us to first of all be conditioned really well. And to be vocal, just play really hard. I think the people that show they really want to play hard the whole time really help the committee chose.'
Some of Williams' goals don't hinge on whether she makes one of the two USA rosters announced on Friday morning, such as her chance to improve her skills, which she says she has already begun during trials.
'This by far is a unique environment,' Williams said. 'There are a lot of people here that are my size, or even taller, so you can expereince what it's like to play against someone who is just as strong or just as quick as you are. I usually end up playing against boys or something, and there style is a little different. When you play against girls your size and strength, that really helps you out.'
With thoughtfulness beyond her 16 years, Williams said it has been her parents who have helped her see the value in hard work and humility.
'Just the way I've been raised, I've become more and more humble,' Williams said. 'I just have to continue to work hard, even with all the accolades that I got. I know I can always be better.
'My parents stress the importance of character. How people see you is really important, being very respectful to other people. I really like to learn and listen. I think that has helped me become more coachable because I really try to listen and respect what other people tell me to try and get better.'
Coachable, smart and talented, Williams is a college coaches' dream-come-true. It will be a while, however, before the 6-3 forward committs.
'It's kind of a long list of colleges I'm considering,' Williams said. 'I've mainly been focused on the academic aspect because I've always wanted to become a doctor and go to medical school. Of course, the basketball, the coaches and the environment are important, but I think my main thing is academics.'
Already a Parade Magazine All-America first team member, a USA Today All-USA third team selection and the 2010 Gatorade Virginia State Player of the Year, Williams' next goal is to become a member of a 2010 USA team.