Many people can say they are a four-year athlete. Even less people can say they have competed in a state championship game. Only two percent of people can say they are a signed division one athlete. Very few can say they have won gold at the Junior Olympics.
Talented softball outfielder, senior Keely Williams, can say she’s accomplished all of these. After playing at the varsity level at Judson High School for four years, Williams knew she wanted to push herself even further. She attended tryouts for team USA (Junior Olympics) last summer in Oklahoma, knowing that if she made the team, she would have pushed herself to that next level.
“The tryout was super long and exhausting. I was pushing my body to its limit,” Williams said.
Williams waited and then news came out that she would be playing for team USA.
“It was such a relief to see my name on that roster. It felt like all that pain and work not only from tryouts, but from my entire life, had paid off,” Williams said.
Williams arrived in Columbia on November 24, 2021 to play softball for Team USA in the Women’s Junior Pan American Games. In the games, Team USA played several teams before winning against team Mexico for the gold medal on December 2, 2021.
Williams takes an enormous amount of pride in having played for her country.
“It feels amazing to be able to wear USA on my chest. It’s a proud feeling,” Williams said.
Most people can only imagine what the title of an olympian means. Williams has the experience first hand.
“Holding the title of an olympian is crazy to me,” said Williams. “It gives me chills. To be called an olympian is an accomplishment.”
While being an olympic athlete is an accomplishment on its own, holding the title as a gold medalist takes a different level of talent and determination.
“It feels awesome to win a gold medal. I am proud of how far my team and I have come. We had to face fierce competition and great talent. Together we pushed ourselves and fought at the end to get that gold,” said Williams.
Even after winning gold, Williams has learned that she can still find ways to get better at the sport she loves.
“The competition level just continues to grow and grow. Many players are improving how they play the game,” she said, “and it shows that as a player I have to find ways to get better.”
Holding herself to the next level, Williams pays close attention to the ways she can get better and improve her game.
“I just try to focus on the details and control the controllable,” she said.
While being a gold medalist is a peak moment for many athletes, Williams says she isn’t near done yet. She has bigger goals and plans to continue setting pace for her peers.
“I’m going to keep trying to get one percent better everyday,” Williams said. “If I continue on this route, I may have the opportunity to make the national team.”
Williams, who is signed to the Texas A&M softball team, has plans to become the best she can be at the collegiate level as well.
“When I start playing at the collegiate level I honestly would just like to enjoy the moment and become an even better athlete,” Williams said.
Williams isn’t playing at any division-one school, she is playing in the SEC. Playing in the SEC means playing against top competitors such as Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU to name a few.
“I’m heading into the SEC. That means everyone is around the same level as you,” Williams said. “For me, heading to A&M gives me the opportunity to find ways to get better.”
With four months left in her senior year, Williams plans to stay focused on her sport and her academics alike.
“I plan to take care of my academics and maintain all high A’s and do extra reps outside of school to perform even better than last season,” Williams said.
Williams has one softball season left in her high school experience, and she has plans to make it her most accomplished year yet.
“An obvious goal is to win a state championship! Last year we were only short by one run, which shows the potential in our team,” Williams said.