Despite setbacks, injury and a major coaching change, Lady Volunteers guard Kamiko Williams’ determination has not wavered.
In her senior season, she has used years of experience and an indomitable spirit to help lead the Lady Vols basketball team to a successful regular season and an SEC regular season championship.
Williams graduated from UT with a degree in sociology before her senior season began, and she admits that it allowed her to focus more attention on basketball and developing as a leader. However, she chose to further challenge herself and is currently seeking a second degree in psychology.
In a basketball season plagued by multiple injuries, Williams has stepped in for her teammates and made a significant impact for her team.
“It’s tough,” Williams said, “but we play for each other.”
Williams is no stranger to injury herself, having suffered a serious ACL injury prior to her junior season and undergone surgery prior to the season beginning. Despite the challenges of recovering from such an injury, Williams continued her dedication to the Lady Vols and never gave up.
Now in her senior season, Williams has become an even stronger player and solid leader. During a Feb. 28 matchup with Texas A&M, Williams scored a career-high 18 points to help lead her team to a conference-clinching 82-72 victory.
“It was a big game, against Texas A&M, and once I got into the flow of the game, I was having fun,” Williams said. “My dad was there, and he hadn’t seen me play very much so I wanted to put on a show for him.”
Williams cites her father as her biggest supporter, commenting that he always supported her and encouraged her in her endeavors. His presence at her final official home game as a Lady Vol helped fuel her to the best offensive game of her career.
Following a victory in her final home game, Williams joined her teammates and coaches on the court. Williams had the opportunity to cut down a piece of the nets at Thompson-Boling Arena one last time.
“It was very special for me and Taber (Spani), being seniors, and it was great because it was (head coach Holly Warlick’s) first,” Williams said.
In a season where UT was picked to finish fourth in the conference, Williams stepped up for her team. In the end, her efforts helped the Lady Vols rise above the expectations.
“It’s always great to defy expectations,” Williams said, smiling. She later explained that she used the “underdog” mentality to motivate herself and the team this season.
The senior and her teammates now shift their attention to the postseason and their chance at a ninth national championship.
Warlick said as Williams and her fellow senior Taber Spani prepare for the tournament, there is a greater sense of urgency and appreciation for each moment.
“I think they understand the importance of each day, each practice, each moment they can get better and lead this team. They feel what any senior feels,” Warlick said. “They have to come and bring it and play their best each game. The first game is the most important. You take care of business then and then it’s the next game. I think they understand they don’t look ahead and stay in the moment.”