Confidence is often accredited as key on the path to excellence.
Well, in situations where there is a lack of confidence in oneself, the assurance and support of those nearest can be crucial and make all the difference. This is the case for Rowan women’s track star Shailah Williams, who is now a national champion. While Williams is not the most self-confident, the people close to her have always seen the ability in her and believe she will achieve greatness.
With a university record time of 24.41 seconds at the 2014 NCAA Division III Women’s Indoor Championships at the University of Nebraska, Williams concluded her impressive indoor season by achieving first place in the 200-meter on March 15. The previous mark of 24.87 was set by Williams in the preliminary round.
“I never expected so much so early [in my career],” Williams said. “This means a lot to me, it’s a great thing. It also feels great to be able to put Rowan track on the map.”
In addition to earning All-American honors for her victory, Williams merited a second All-American for her fourth-place finish in the 60. The All-American designation is given to the top eight athletes in each event at the national championships. Williams’ time of 7.67 tied her Rowan record.
“Shailah is probably the most dangerous sprinter in America at the Division III level,” head coach Derick “Ringo” Adamson said. “She proved it in the 200.”
Adamson has helped to develop Williams’ talent for two seasons, as “not just a coach, but also a mentor” and was glad to see her maturity as an athlete show through with her exceptional races.
“From the time I recruited [Williams], I knew she could be very good,” Adamson said. “There are times you see something in a kid that they can’t see in themselves.”
“I love working with Ringo,” Williams said. “He’s the best coach I’ve ever had. He makes me feel like part of a family. Early on, I had to be pushed by Coach and my teammates to keep my focus but now I can see why everyone looked out for me.”
Teammate Jamie Thompson competed in the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump in two days at the national championships, earning All-American honors in both. Thompson placed sixth in the hurdles with a final time of 8.81 and set a preliminary time of 8.78, which is a Rowan record. On March 14, Thompson took sixth in the long jump with a university record mark of 18 feet, 1.75 inches.
“Jamie [Thompson] is unreal,” Adamson said. “She’s shown maturity, discipline and just a knack for coming up big in the key moments. That’s what makes a great athlete.”
Williams’ and Thompson’s combined score of 21 points in team scoring gave the Rowan women’s indoor track team an eighth-place finish out of 61 schools.
“This accomplishment makes me feel like all eyes are on me,” Williams said. “I know I have a lot to maintain, and I want to continue to do more. I want to be the best at what I do.”