No ride to full ride

Jaelencia Williams sees improvements on and off court

Senior Jaelencia Williams is introduced before the game versus Fishers on Nov. 5. She has played basketball since she was in 7th grade.

Madeline Stewart

Senior Jaelencia Williams is introduced before the game versus Fishers on Nov. 5. She has played basketball since she was in 7th grade.

Michael Long, Reporter

A walk from SHS to 10th and Gray Street is roughly eight miles. That is three hours and 35 minutes worth of walking. A three hour and 35 minute walk while rain is pouring down and it is pitch dark outside is even worse. Senior Jaelencia Williams was waiting for the city bus on a night like this after a basketball practice during her sophomore year. When the bus didn’t come, she started the walk home to 10th and Gray Street. Luckily, she didn’t have to finish that long journey because she was offered a ride from former principal, Barbara Brouwer.

However, Williams was used to struggles like these. Her entire freshman year, Williams had to get up early enough to catch the city bus at 5:30 in the morning. From there, Williams was dropped off at a bus stop on US 31 and Banta Road and walked the rest of the way to school.

On top of this physically demanding travel schedule, Williams also says she didn’t have a great home situation.

“Home was not very good because she (Williams’ mother) was married to a guy who wasn’t very good to her,” Williams said. “So that really wasn’t the best situation, so basketball was my escape from that.”

Despite these struggles, Williams has earned a full ride scholarship to Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, IPFW. She was made an official Mastodon (IPFW’s mascot) on Nov. 10, when she signed with IPFW along side teammate Emma DeHart, who signed with the University of Southern Indiana.

Williams was selected to play in the 2016 Indiana Class Basketball All-Star Classic. She was also named to the 2016 All-Conference Indiana First Team. Williams averaged 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds and set a new record for rebounds in a single season last year for SHS. This year, she has started out with two double-doubles, scoring over 20 points in games against Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern. Statistics like these caught IPFW’s head girls’ basketball coach Niecee Nelson’s attention.

“Jaelencia adds power, strength and size to our roster,”  Nelson said in an article on IPFW’s athletic page.. “She is an offensive threat on the block with the versatility to shoot 15-20 foot jumpers. Her defensive presence and shot blocking ability will add another dimension to our defense. She will be an impact player in this league.”

Williams has key components that may prove to help improve IPFW’s team from their 2015-2016 season record which was 7-23. Improvement is not unfamiliar to Williams according to SHS girl’s basketball assistant coach Stephanie Schott.

“She started as… never playing and I think started in middle school…” Schott said. “…every year she has the largest improvement I’ve ever seen from a player.”

According to Schott, Williams has made great strides in the past couple of years. She says it’s great to see Williams go from probably not even thinking about college to actually getting to go to college for free.

Williams no longer has to catch a city bus at 5:30 in the morning because she moved closer to the Southport area. Her mother also got a divorce from the man who didn’t treat her well. She has recently signed with IPFW and will be playing as a Mastodon once she finishes her final year as a Cardinal for zero cost. With all of these factors coming together, Williams’ life seems to be turning a new leaf.