By Raegan Stanley
Killeen Daily Herald
To be called a leader is one thing, to actually lead another. For Ellison senior Mica Williams, a post player for the Lady Eagles basketball team, it's not just a title but also an everyday action.
Williams, the only senior on an otherwise youthful team, has led the Lady Eagles with 17 points and nine rebounds per game under new head coach Sherry McKinnon. Ellison boasts two juniors, two freshmen and the remainder of the team is sophomores.
"I couldn't have asked for a more gracious young lady," said McKinnon. "She has lots of character. She can be hard-headed. She stepped it up and she has kept her head up though all of this and she is smiling."
"This" being a new coach, a new way of doing things and a less than perfect season for the 11-17 Lady Eagles, who are 2-9 in District 13-5A heading into tonight's season finale.
Since McKinnon stepped in at the helm, Williams says that everything is completely new and different from previous seasons.
"The way that coach McKinnon coaches almost makes you become a leader," said Williams of her role this season. "She requires a lot. Her standards are higher, but she has earned more respect from us for that."
Williams mother, Alyce, said that she is proud of her daughter's ability because Williams did not start playing basketball until she reached high school, and that she has become stronger and has developed more after playing club ball in the off season.
"She's not a person that will back down from a challenge," said Alyce, who has attended all of Williams' games except one. "She has always been strong-willed."
Williams says that leading a young team through a season had its difficulties but that it wasn't so bad.
"In the beginning it wasn't hard because of the other senior (who left the team early in the season) and since then, everybody else has really stepped up."
Alyce says that she has not seen her daughter become frustrated but that at times she notices Williams coaching on the court.
Two of Williams' biggest assets on the team have been juniors Lisa Hicklen and Eloise Seabrooks. Williams and McKinnon have high expectations that they will fill Williams' shoes next season.
"Against A&M Consolidated, the girls finally realized they could play. They believe that they can win. They are just good kids and easy to coach. They are good examples; they don't talk it, they just produce," McKinnon said of the two. "I expect them to come in and get things started and to make up our team rules and enforce them (next year)."
Hicklen, a guard, says that she thinks she will be a good leader and will be able to lead both vocally and by her actions.
When asked about Williams, Hicklen said that she was a "big asset." McKinnon says that the relationship between the two goes deep and that Hicklen probably doesn't yet realize how much she'll miss the senior.
"I think that Lisa is going to have a big hole for a while," McKinnon said.
"Lisa helps me," said Williams. "If I'm doing something wrong, she can help fix it."
McKinnon laughingly told a story of Williams learning the hard way that the consequences for her actions would be a bit tougher than the previous year. Williams, who struggled with eligibility issues her junior year, prides herself on maintaining an A/B average in her final year.
However, at the beginning of the season one of McKinnon's rules was that if you did not have A's or B's in every class, you had to attend tutoring once a week instead of shooting around with the rest of the team. Williams was below the requirement and tried to slip onto the court one afternoon. McKinnon became aware of the low grade and made Williams change out of her workout clothes to attend tutoring. After that, the bond was sealed.
"I don't care who you are, that is my rule," McKinnon laughed. "But, she has told me that that was the turning point for her, that she really respected me after that."
Williams has expressed a desire to play collegiate ball and Army is her top choice. Army has also expressed interest in Williams. She wants to major in criminal justice in the hopes of becoming a lawyer or a judge.
"I have very high expectations for everyone on my team but I especially put them on her, knowing that she wants to go to the next level," McKinnon said. "I've been trying to help her prepare. She will definitely be missed. Not hardly a day goes by when she doesn't stop by to talk or to see if I have any food. The girl loves to eat!"
Alyce, whose husband Terry is retired military, said the other girls on the team look up to her, some days more than others, but she can tell her daughter has become more responsible due to her role.
"Especially in her grades," noted Alyce. "With her in that leadership role, she has had to make good grades and she's been on the A/B honor roll all year."
Although the Lady Eagles will not be making a trip to the playoffs this year, Williams is not disappointed.
"We had a successful season because of our coach," stressed Williams, "She made us successful."
The Lady Eagles will close their season at home against Shoemaker. The night will also be a tribute to the players' parents.
Contact Raegan Stanley at email@example.com or (254) 501-7564