Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Interview with Amanda Williams

I know for a fact that there are going to be quite a few people that enjoy today’s article. She’s not the biggest name in the sport, but I've never seen bigger fan support for a single player than I’ve seen for Amanda Williams and the “Sign AWill” campaign. (Full disclosure, I am the co-administrator for the Facebook group dedicated to this ‘cause’.)

A former Marshall standout, AWill has been a player in the National Pro Fastpitch league since 2006. She holds several Marshall school records and finds herself in the top three in several other statistical categories in the Thundering Herd record books.

Amanda played most of her career alongside twin sister Jessica (“JWill”), although they spent the past few seasons in the NPF as opponents. AWill was a member of two different NPF championship-winning squads (2009 Rockford Thunder & 2011 Chicago Bandits), and was one win away from her third career league title in 2012.

After what I (and anybody who knows good softball) considered to be an All-Star caliber season, AWill has inexplicably not been signed to any of the four NPF squads. I still struggle to understand why this is the case (for even more reasons than I laid out in this article), but the fact remains that, at this point, it is.

A friend and I have started a Facebook group to show fan support for AWill being signed to play in the NPF in 2013, and if you’d like to join us, follow this link and click “Join Group”. And if you’d like to express your support for Amanda directly to her, find her on Facebook here.

In the meantime, enjoy the interview! I certainly was very happy and proud to conduct it with one of the game’s finest!

Q: After (unfairly, in my eyes) missing out on the 2012 postseason, give me your prediction for the 2013 Marshall softball squad.
A: Yes, unfortunately we did not get the bid that we thought we were going to get, but we realize that we have to earn it, and this year’s slogan is “Start Fast, Play Hard, Finish Strong”.
We have a very talented group of girls led strongly by the senior class; we do have a lot of newcomers, but they have stepped up as well.  My prediction for this year’s team is that we will make postseason play and surprise some people in conference USA.  We are currently on a 9 game win streak in the conference and 13 game win streak overall.  So stay tuned for an exciting finish in the conference!

Q: A lot of current and former NPF players have gone into coaching, but rarely do they get that opportunity at their alma mater. How awesome is it for you to not just be able to mentor younger players, but to do so while still wearing the Marshall green and white?
A: I really enjoyed my experience at Marshall under the direction of Coach Stanton and wanted to carry that over into my coaching.  I continue to learn from Shonda and we are on the same page as a staff along with pitching coach, Chelsey Barclay.  Playing and coaching for Marshall has been such a blessing in so many ways.  The people here are great and they hold such heavy tradition; it’s awesome to see a college town that wraps themselves around athletics like Marshall does.  I will always bleed green…GO HERD!!!

Q: The ballot for the Marshall all-time softball roster was recently released, and both you and your twin sister are on it. How great of an honor was it for you to be nominated, and have you cast your vote?
A: It was an honor to be named to the All-time softball roster.  I played alongside not only some great ball players but some of my best friends as well.  I wish we all could have been named to the roster.  There are girls that paved the way before us, and we paved the way for the girls that are playing now.  We are all a part of the HERD family!

Q: Although everyone knows you’re a great hitter, fielder, and base runner, how do you think you’d fare in the pitching circle?
A: Well to be honest I have always been a wanna-be pitcher.  I was really little when we first started playing fastpitch (we grew up playing slowpitch in Georgia) and everyone tried to be a pitcher, but I was better off elsewhere.  To this day though, I love to mess around and when there is down time try and find someone to catch me lol.

Q: Several NPF players have already announced that the 2012 season was their last in the pro league. Will you be coming back next season?
A: At this point in time I am a free-agent so with the draft occurring last night we will see what is in store for me now.  I appreciate all the support that everyone has shown me in the social networks, including you Justin!  Thank you #WE WANT AWILL! Lol J
Q: Complete this sentence: If not for softball, I would currently be _______________________.
A: Hmmm…playing another sport…basketball, track and field, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, golf, etc…I love sports and couldn’t imagine not being a part of the sports world.

Q: What is the proudest moment of your softball career, both as a player and as a coach?
A: Proudest moment as a player…that is a toughy…I have enjoyed so much about this game so I don’t think I can put just one answer.  Being able to play alongside Jessica all the years was such a blast.  We were a part of the best team in Marshall Softball history our freshman year when no one thought that team would do anything.  We had 5 freshman starting on the field and we did what we all knew we could do.  My hopes is that I will also be a part of the best team in Marshall Softball this year and that would be a very proud moment as a coach.  Up to this point, just seeing your athletes succeed after they have been working so hard and impacting their lives like we do is something that makes me proud.  Also as a player being drafted to the Chicago bandits as a Senior! GO NPF!!!

Q: Years down the road, when your playing and coaching careers are done, what kind of legacy do you hope to have left on the game?
A: I hope that not only will people say that I was a good player and coach, but that I was a good person.  I hope that I will continue to be a pioneer for our game and get our game to the next level, with the hopes of athletes making a living playing softball and dreaming to play NPF.

Q: If a movie was being made, based on your life, who would you cast in the role of Amanda? [And, just for fun, who would play your twin sister Jessica?]
A: No need for an actress…I’ll be playing myself and Jessica would play herself lol!!!

Q: Say you were Aladdin and the genie agreed to grant you three wishes. What would you ask for?
A: Three wishes…
1. Good health and no suffering for my loved ones
2.  Prosperity
3. That we would all glorify God and be closer to Him

 Q: If you could trade places for one day with anyone on earth, who would it be and why?
A: The President so I could make some changes 

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