This is a story about Mansfield Lake Ridge volleyball player Madison Williams. Ideally, the next paragraph would be a catchy quote from the sophomore outside hitter.
But she’s not available for comment, because she’s in South America proudly representing Team USA.
Following a long and emotionally draining tryout process, Williams was selected as a member of the U.S. Girls Youth National Team, which will compete in the 2017 FIVB Girls U18 World Championship, Aug. 18-27, in Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina.
Earlier this summer, Williams was named to the 20-player roster that would train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. After two weeks, there, the group of 20 was reduced to the final 12 to wear the red, white and blue in Argentina.
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“She was very excited,” Madison’s father, Vince Williams, said after receiving the news via FaceTime. “We were jumping and shouting on her side and our side. We were able to celebrate the moment together. She was very, very excited. Tears were flowing. It was amazing.”
Williams is in Brazil for additional training and warm-up matches prior to the World Championship. Some 5,000 miles away, Williams’ Lake Ridge teammates are now in full swing for the high school season. Williams was a valuable part of the team last season as a freshman, and figures to be an integral part of this year’s squad — once she joins. Back in Mansfield, time cannot wait on Williams.
“She’s a familiar face and we already know her. We consider her part of the family, so it’s just like we’re waiting on her to get home,” Eagles coach Jessica Tyler said.
Lake Ridge opened the season with seven consecutive match victories, so while Williams’ absence does scale back the Eagles’ arsenal, Tyler says this is proving — and improving — the team’s depth.
“I don’t see it as a problem,” Tyler said. “I see it as we’re missing a piece to the puzzle, because it’s going to take all 15 [players] to accomplish our goals this season. Each one of them brings something unique to the team that will push us to the next level.”
She was very, very excited. Tears were flowing. It was amazing.
Vince Williams, father of Lake Ridge standout Madison Williams
It isn’t every day a high school coach gets to say they have a member of Team USA on their squad.
“It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime adventure,” Tyler said. “It’s pretty amazing. Not only is she a great player, but she’s a great kid, too. It’s well-deserved.”
Tyler has been able to keep some contact with Williams through her exploits this summer.
“It’s does feel like all these players are your kids, so it feels like a kid is away from home right now,” she said.
Tyler also noted that Williams has illustrated her devotion to her high school teammates despite everything else going on, always asking for details and updates.
“She’s still really concerned with Lake Ridge volleyball and it’s a priority for her,” Tyler said. “We’ve got to hold down the fort here until she returns home.”