2019 is a Basketball Summer for Two-Sport Athlete Peyton Williams
Two-sport star Peyton Williams is used to juggling all sorts of different things, but what’s about to happen next is completely new.
In August, she will make her first appearance as part of USA Basketball after making the 2019 U.S. Pan American Games Women's Basketball Team.
She was selected to the team following her first USA Basketball tryout back in May.
“I wasn’t expecting anything when I went to Colorado Springs,” she said of the tryout camp. “I just went to work out and see what happened, maybe make some friends. When I got selected, it was quite the shock, and obviously an honor to be selected out of all those talented young women.”
The women’s basketball competition at the 2019 Pan American Games takes place Aug. 6-10 at the Coliseo Eduardo Dibo. Team USA was drawn into Group B in the preliminary round, featuring Argentina, Colombia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Williams, a rising senior, is just the second player from Kansas State University — Laurie Koehn was the first in 2003 — to make the Pan American Games Team, but that’s not the only rare thing about her.
Williams is a two-sport athlete at K-State, playing both volleyball and basketball. And, those sports overlap in November, and sometimes into December if the volleyball team makes it deep into the playoffs.
If that’s not enough mayhem for a college student’s schedule, she’s carrying “around a 3.8” GPA with a double major in anthropology and international studies and a minor in political science.
Oh, and in her spare time she loves to read books — “I’m reading the Michelle Obama autobiography now, and it’s very interesting” — and somehow manages to find extra time to watch shows and movies on Netflix, “just like a lot of college kids do.”
Williams first was offered a volleyball scholarship at K-State, but then women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie saw her hoop and had a negotiation with volleyball coach Suzie Fritz. The next thing she knew, she was signing a basketball letter of intent.
She has excelled in just about every aspect of her development ever since.
In basketball, she earned 2019 Big 12 Conference Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 2019 All-Big 12 first team and all-defensive team, and she was 2018 and 2019 All-Big 12 Academic first team.
She is the fourth player in K-state history to score 1,000 career points, grab 600 or more rebounds and block 80 or more shots. She is tied for fourth in program history with three five-block games and seventh in school history in free throw percentage (.812) career blocks (90) and career blocks per game (.90).
And she is no less successful in volleyball, where she will be a redshirt junior as a middle blocker this upcoming season. She was Big 12 All-Freshman in 2017 and Big 12 All-Academic in 2017 and 2018.
“It’s definitely unusual to be a two-sport Division I athlete for good reason,” Williams said. “It’s a lot of work, and it takes a lot of planning to do basketball and volleyball. My busy seasons are the summer and that little place where it overlaps in November and maybe December, but it’s mostly a lot of fun. I love both teams, both coaches. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t have the right people around me.”
Williams said she sits down with K-State deputy athletic director/senior women’s administrator Jill Shields in August to begin managing the schedule between the two sports, along with input from her coaches.
“We look at it from the outset and what games we’re going to negotiate, like sit out an exhibition game for basketball, and maybe one for volleyball that may not be as important,” Williams said.
And then there’s the academic side of it, where she excels with a double major and a minor. Does she juggle as well?
“I’ve tried many times and failed every time,” she joked.
The international allure is very real for Williams.
“I really want to be an ambassador in that way, or write about other cultures and make videos,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be an ambassador. I’m pursuing a minor in political science, so part of my thought process is working in foreign relations with either international organizations or non-profits.”
College has provided her the opportunity to be an ambassador for her school and sports. The K-State women’s basketball team has played several games in Europe the past two seasons.
This spring, she and the women’s volleyball team traveled to Brazil, her first time in South America. The team worked out at Brazil’s Olympic Training Center, met some of the best Brazilian volleyball players who are considered the best in the world and even sat down for dinner with them.
That first trip to South America has her prepped for her trip to Peru in August. And this time, she’ll be wearing USA across her chest.