TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — From Alcovy to Alabama. From prep basketball star to unexpected motherhood, Ashley Williams has been through a lot and overcome even more. After scoring over 1,000 points in her high school career at Alcovy, the Lady Tigers alumnae is now writing the final chapters of her collegiate career for the Alabama Crimson Tide women’s basketball team.
The 6-foot Bama senior has managed to juggle being the mother of a 2-year old daughter with being an honor student and an unquestioned leader and a top player for the Tide. She’s averaged 11 points and seven rebounds through her senior season, and, in fact, she led Alabama with 13 points in Thursday night’s 61-59 win over Georgia Tech in the Sweet 16 round of the women’s NIT, earning a trip to play Virginia Tech Sunday at 1 p.m. in the NIT’s Elite Eight, keeping alive her desire to close out her career with a championship.
Williams took time out of her busy schedule of classes and practice to chat with sports editor Gabriel Stovall about her career, her support system and post-Alabama plans.
Stovall: First let me ask the obvious question. You’re a senior still playing basketball in the month of March. How awesome is that for you?
Williams: “It really does mean a lot, especially the fact that I’m doing this and we’re doing this and continuing to play in March. It’s great because there are a lot of seniors who wish they could be still playing right now. I’m happy and I’m definitely enjoying it.”
Stovall: I know you used your time in Covington as a middle schooler at Veterans and then high school at Alcovy to really blossom as a player. Do you still have much contact with folks from those times?
Williams: “I’m in touch with some of my teachers still. I think most of the ones who were there when I was there have left and are teaching in other places. But I definitely still stay in touch with my high school coach, (Kidada Holtzclaw) who is now coaching over at South Gwinnett. Every now and then I try my best to go back there and pay a visit.”
Stovall: SEC Country did a fantastic article on you back in February about the journey you’ve encountered with your 2-year old daughter Kamryn. Can you summarize what that experience was like and what you learned from it?
Williams: “I mean, first it’s just that every day is just a learning experience. Everyone you’re going to come in contact with can help you along the way. I can say it was hard. When I found out I was pregnant, I stayed on campus in the fall and then I ended up going home in the spring. I ended up finishing with a 4.0 GPA in the spring, so I was still able to take care of academics.
“But it was very hard. I took it on, though, and I finished. After having my daughter, I came back in May for summer workouts. It was a struggle, and I knew it would be. But it was a one-day-at-a-time kind of process, and that’s how I got through it.”
Stovall: Who were your biggest supporters and sources of inspiration during your toughest times?
Williams: “Definitely my parents. My dad, he’s a pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Oxford, I believe, he has this saying: ‘A minor setback for a major comeback.’ When he told me that, it was like it flashed a lightbulb in me and I knew I had to go out, finish school, finish my career. I couldn’t quit. They still remain my biggest supporters. I talk to them every day. I FaceTime my mom and my daughter and talk to them almost every moment of every single day.
“They don’t get to see me play a lot, but when they do get a chance, they come. And I can hear them from the court. Especially my daughter. She’s always yelling out my name and my teammate’s names.”
Stovall: How much of an impact did your Alabama teammates have on your perseverance?
Williams: “Oh, they were so very supportive. When everything happened and I told them I wouldn’t be playing, they wrapped their arms around me and they told me they would still support me even when I’m not there.”
Stovall: I know you want to end your career with a NIT championship. But after basketball and your studies at Alabama are done, what are your future plans?
Williams: “I definitely want to continue playing basketball professionally if I can. If that doesn’t work out, I’d like to go into a career in compliance. I’m working on doing an internship now. I plan to go to Atlanta first week of June and continue doing work under my internship and just keep trying to get some experience there.”
Stovall: And finally, Ashley, how would you want to be remembered here at Alabama, and how do you see yourself using your experiences to encourage your daughter down the road?
Williams: “As far as leaving Alabama, on the court, of course, I want to win a championship as my last thing here. But beyond that, I want people to know that I was hard working, caring and someone who didn’t mind leaving it all out on the court and in the classroom.
“And as for my daughter, when that time comes, I just want her to be able to look at my process and my journey and see that, yes I had a baby going into my junior year, but I didn’t let that stop me. I got my degree. I’m starting my Masters. I just want it to show her how when life gets tough you still have to push through.”