Whitney Williams can be seen orchestrating the TCU women’s basketball team as a starting guard for the Lady Frogs. But what most people watching Williams work do not know is that the dynamic player never played public or private school basketball. Williams was home-schooled by her mother, Patty Williams, from kindergarten through high school. She and her three siblings played sports through THESA, the Texas Home Educators’ Sports Association, Inc.
For Williams’ father, Gary, a competitive man who wanted to see his children excel in athletics as well as academics, the idea that his children would not be part of a well-known athletic program was tough to grasp. He had wanted his children to be home-schooled until the junior high or high school level, he said. Then they would attend a private school, such as the nearby Grace Academy, since home schooling did not offer many options for playing on organized athletic teams.
“Athletics in home school back then were very recreational. They weren’t excellent, they weren’t highly competitive,” he said.
However, his position changed once he attended a home school national tournament with Whitney in Oklahoma City.
As tears began to well up in his eyes, Gary described the moment in which his young daughter set her mind on playing basketball competitively.
“Whitney and I were standing there, and I remember Whitney going, ‘Dad, that’s where I want to be. I want to be out there on that floor’,” he said as he pointed across the room, recreating the moment he shared with his daughter at Southern Nazarene University.
Gary said the tournament helped his family realize not only the scope of home school athletics, but also the talent of the athletes that comprised the teams.
Since then, Williams’ journey to TCU has had a few uncanny coincidences. Her first experience playing at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum was not in college ball with the Lady Frogs, but almost a decade ago. She played on a summer select team where former TCU basketball player Jill Sutton was an assistant coach.
Gary said even Sutton was able to see the talent in the fifth-grade Williams. As he fought back tears once more, Gary remembered how Sutton recognized Williams’ raw talent and hard work. He said Sutton’s remarks planted a seed in Williams that blossomed as her dedication and success in basketball increased. Another ironic twist to Williams’ career with TCU is the Big 12 move. Next year, some of her opponents will look all too familiar to Williams, who transferred to TCU from Iowa State University. Williams was a member of the Cyclones for two seasons. Although she is excited to finally play in the Mountain West Conference, she is also looking forward to getting back into the Big 12, she said.
“There’s some mixed emotions about playing against Iowa State, but it’s a really fun conference to play in. It’s pretty cool to be going back to that,” she said.
Another coincidence in Williams’ career is the advantage of her timing. Since she had to sit out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, she will be one of only three upperclassmen on the team.
Williams said she is excited to finally play again and feels confident because of the experience she brings to the team.