Always a Champ

Published 9:41 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

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Special to the

R-C News-Herald

WINDSOR – Coming off a run to the state championship a year ago, Simone Williams entered the 2022-23 basketball season with big ideas. But as they sometimes say, real life had other plans.

One of just two returning seniors on the team along with Trianna Smallwood, Williams would suffer an early season ankle injury after just three games and miss the next 10. By the time she returned, the 1A East Region defending champs were sporting a record of 3-10.

Refusing to abandon her dream of continuing not only her education but also her hardwood career, Williams – who sports better than a 3.0 grade point verage – was able to secure an academic scholarship next year to NCAA Division III Methodist University in Fayetteville. She has been also invited by Lady Monarchs coach Sheryl McNair to come out for the women’s college basketball team.

Former Bertie High School basketball player Simone Williams (front, brown cap) is joined by family and school administrators on April 28 at the school’s Media Center where she accepted an academic scholarship to Methodist University with an invite to make the basketball team. Pictured are: (front row, from left) Clarence Burden, father; Beverly Clark, mother; Simone; Sade Proctor, sister; (back row, from left) William Peele, BHS Assistant Principal; Tequilla Taylor, BHS Principal; Courtney Proctor, sister; Kelvin Hayes, BHS Coach; Aleeyah Proctor, sister; Robert Brown, BHS Athletic Director; and, Chris Jordan, BHS Coach. Contributed Photo

“I’m not guaranteed a spot (on the team),” Williams said at her signing party held at the Bertie High Media Center here April 28. “But she said I could only cut myself by not working hard. If I put in the work I know I’ll get noticed.

“She said they want me for my defense,” Williams observed. “I can play either the one-or-two guard positions, but I want to be known as a shutdown defender.”

With her high academic profile Williams had offers from, among others, Salem College, Mary Baldwin, and Fayetteville Technical Community College, out of several other colleges to where she applied.

“I just liked the atmosphere (at Methodist), the coaches and just the overall vibe they had on the campus; and, the fact that they picked education over sports was more important for them.”

The Aulander native says she plans to major in Psychology with an eye toward a post-graduate career as a Mental Health Therapist. She also knows her college success, sports or academic, will be based on hard work.

“I want to work on just becoming a better athlete all around, working on my game, being comfortable, and playing at a high rate,” she emphasized.

“I plan to get stronger, to keep my body in shape by working out in general and working harder than everyone else, really,” she noted.

Williams didn’t play basketball until eighth grade. From that point forward she begin attending college camps and showcases as well as further developing her skills as a member of the high school team.

“I started kinda late, so I always had to work a little harder to get ahead,” she said.

Since she wasn’t highly recruited, Williams had to basically recruit herself; reaching out to her college choices on her own.

“The process was just so long,” she stated.

It was also a family affair that motivated Williams. She credits her work ethic to her mother and what she tried to provide for a family with five girls. And, there is also her older sister, Aleeyah, had also played for the Falcons.

“Seeing her play and how good she got over the years, I just wanted to play that good, too,” she declared. “It was kind of disheartening losing this year as much as we did, but knowing that we had a young team, I was more focused throughout the season being able to maintain the scholarship I wanted as well as helping the younger girls improve so they can come back after us and be so much better because they have a lot of potential. I’ll try to come back and help them next year just so they’ll know what to expect at the college level.”

Years from now Williams says she hopes to have her own medical practice, but she also won’t be quite ready to abandon basketball altogether.

“I can see myself playing pro basketball overseas,” she envisioned. “I’m never really satisfied with just being good, I want to see how much better I can get. I’m curious to see the highest level I can reach.”