March 10, 2010
Britany Williams cannot recall a time when her life did not revolve around multiple pursuits, no matter the demands on her time.
She excelled in the classroom to earn admission to Rice, graduating Cum Laude from Saint Mary's Hall, a college preparatory school in San Antonio, while also competing in soccer, track and cross country and finding the time to also serve on the student government and the National Honor Society.
With her admission to Rice already in hand, Williams thought that her competitive athletic career had ended with her graduation from Saint Mary's Hall.
"I really didn't consider myself a college-type athlete," Williams said. "I had done well in high school, but that was competing at the prep school level, so I wasn't sure how that measured up. When I decided to give it a try, my parents were very supportive. They have always backed me up, even if I wasn't totally sure what I was getting into," Williams noted.
As she face the dual challenges of academics and athletics, Williams fell back on the same skills that had allowed her to balance so many activities while in high school. "I make a schedule and stick to it. It takes planning ahead, and you have to make sacrifices. I think sometimes people don't understand the demands on athletes. They might say that a practice is only two hours out of your day, but they don't understand that is a small part of it. But, at the same time, being an athlete is not a good excuse to fall behind."
Williams came to Rice with an interest in becoming a psychologist, but her continued participation in athletics, as well as expanding her area of study to include a second major in Sport Management, has altered her career path.
"When I worked for Under Armor last summer on some of their community programs, I saw that athletics can be a powerful force in helping people," she noted. "I want to help people become better athletically, but also define success as personal improvement, and not gold medals.
"When I was in high school, I volunteered at a mental hospital rehabilitation facility and that really opened my eyes for the first time to people who were less fortunate. In my internships during my time at Rice, I have seen the impact that sports can have on people and inspire them. I want to do what I can to combine my interests in sports and psychology to use athletics to give people the feeling of achievement."
Williams has continued to meet her criteria each year she has competed for Rice and in what may turn out to be her final indoor race, she capped that improvement by posting her personal-best time in the indoor mile, a time that ranked as the top indoor performance this year in Conference USA.
With a definition of success rooted in a desire to inspire others, both in athletics and academics, Britany Williams is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.