TUSCOLA (WCIA) — Before moving to the United States, Tuscola’s Alyssa Williams had only seen clips of American football on YouTube. Four years later, she’s more than figured out the sport.
“They didn’t have it when I was growing up,” Williams said. “When I saw it, I was like, ‘Man this is really cool. I kinda want to do that.'”
Williams and her family moved to Central Illinois from Saint Catherine, Jamaica in 2018, in time for her freshman year. The first chance she got, she asked head coach Andy Romine about a spot on the team.
“She comes, with a big smile on her face, a little apprehensive and says, ‘Hey coach, can girls play football?'” Tuscola head coach Andy Romine said. “And I say ‘They sure can.'”
Now the senior is entering her final year of high school ball, playing as a wide receiver and cornerback for the Warriors. After not knowing the basic rules of the game four years ago, Williams will get the chance to make an impact on Varsity this season.
“There was so much I didn’t know before,” Williams said. “And I didn’t really get the gist of it until my junior year but they put me out there and I learned really quickly. I’m really happy I did it.”
One of the traits that makes the 5-foot-6 athlete a special talent for the Warriors is her speed, something she says she learned running errands for her mom in Jamaica.
“Every time my mom would send me to get something from the shop I’d run, you know?” Williams said. “I kinda used to run beside some taxis, like on the sidewalk, but I had no idea. I was kind of doing it for fun.”
Williams first love is track, where the multi-sport athlete won three state titles in June, taking gold in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, to go along with a long jump championship in Charleston. But she still has a desire to make a similar mark in her football. Even in a male-dominated sport, her teammates have had her back from day one.
“If there’s anyone on the team that’s probably made the most progress, it’s her,” Tuscola senior receiver Caden Baer said. “When she’s running a route, she’s extremely fast. It’s hard to keep up. She’s one of us now.”
“It was a little intimidating at first but I quickly realized there was nothing to worry about,” Williams said. “Over the past couple of years me and the guys have grown pretty close, I think there’s a nice family atmosphere at practice every day.”
After playing some on special teams in the Spring, Williams will see time in all phases when the Warriors kick off against Arcola in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week. It will be the 107th meeting