Friday, November 16, 2012

ETSU Senior Kayla Williams Makes Her Point

Five minutes was all that she asked for, but the impact that she made will likely last much longer.

ETSU senior Kayla Williams had a point to make, and ironically she made it with a pencil.

Prior to the Bucs' match with three-time defending A-Sun Champion Lipscomb, Williams petitioned her coach for some time with her teammates to share an object lesson that she believed could provide her team an extra boost.

Williams handed a #2 pencil to every member of the team, coaches included, complete with a particular message for each one of them. She explained to them that their individual pencil represented them as an individual, and then instructed them to break them. How easily they broke, she explained, is how easily each one of them could be broken.

The next object was a bundle of 13 pencils, wrapped in rubber bands. One set of rubber bands was pink and the other normal, but they could serve as a reminder of the message she was about to deliver. She then passed along the bundle of pencils to each teammate, explaining how it represented their team and challenged anyone to break the bundle. No one could do it. 

The team could not be broken. Message delivered.

"A former coach told me about  the idea, and I really liked it," says Williams. "I thought it fit our team really well. It has been a bumpy road to get here,and I felt like it would give us a boost."

The Bucs did seem particularly energized on Friday evening, as they fought from a set down to win the next three and defeat the Bisons on their home floor. It was only the second victory for the Bucs over the Bisons in their last 11 matches, a win that Head Coach Lindsey Devine says was long overdue.

"This team had basically had enough," says Devine. "After the loss in the 2010 championship and our five-set loss that kept us out of last year's championship, we basically committed ourselves to the fact that something had to be done.

"We started planning in January. This team is very driven, not that other teams don't work hard. But there is a fire burning and a will to win in this team that has gotten them to this point."

Devine also has a real appreciation for her senior's initiative.

"She wanted five minutes, and when a captain and senior asks for something like that you give it to her," says Devine. "She is so mature, and such a stable force, especially this year. She gave them something to grasp onto, something meaningful. These kids care so much about what we are about - team, family, hard work. 

"This is the expectation of every coach when they start the season, to be in the finals. This team has possessed the belief all season that we would be here."

Williams was not on the team that lost in the final two years ago, but she was watching in preparation for her transfer from Frank Phillips College to ETSU. She is looking forward to being part of the team that she felt would win a championship.

"I thought if they could see something visually, it would remind them about the message of team," said Williams. "I asked everyone if they thought it was lame, and everyone really liked it. I thnk it helped get us extra motivated.

"I am so excited to be in this situation. We feel like this is our time. We want to prove to ourselves that we can do it and we have taken it one step at a time."

Devine is in step with her senior leader, and knows that her team has taken a big step forward thanks in part to Williams' inspiration.

"The significance of what she did is amazing, because she is so in tune with her team," says Devine. "It is awesome that a captain can see that, and she is so insightful. We have come up a little short a few times, and this team has finally said, 'enough is enough. We can do it.'"

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