EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Music and hoops are the focus of Monday’s Here’s To You Kid segment.
Michaela Williams plays basketball for the Southern Columbia Tigers, and in between games, she fills the gym with music. Fifteen-year-old Williams is a starter on the Southern Columba Tigers Junior Varsity basketball team. She plays most of the game and works very hard at both ends of the floor.
The warm-up for the varsity game is also taken seriously. There is little time for players on the team to fiddle around, except when it comes to Michaela.
She has been playing violin for more than 12 years and performs the National Anthem before her varsity basketball games. Williams says the transition between the chaos of sports and the calm of a violin solo gets easier with time.
“Sometimes I let the pressure get to me a little bit, and I have a mini panic attack before I am about to play. So I take deep breaths and I usually like to close my eyes when I play the National Anthem so I am really listening to the music,” described Michaela.
Her family says it all started when, as a preschooler, Michaela asked for an unusual Christmas present.
“Actually she wasn’t quite three when she started. It was a few months before she turned three. But I ended up giving her a violin before Christmas because I thought she is very passionate about this. And I wanted to see her realize that dream,” said Michele Richards, Michaela’s proud mother.
Her father Mike is usually standing by with a microphone, proud as can be, helping the music carry throughout the gym.
“I am proud of the balance she has had and maintained in her life. The balance between academics, she takes honors courses, and she is on the distinguished honor roll. She is an athlete and she is very accomplished at the violin. And she works hard at everything,” stated Mike Williams, Michaela’s proud father.
Word is getting around about her ability. She plays at weddings, and even before road games, like a performance in Hughesville.
Her teammates say they appreciate her talents on and off the court.
“It’s super awesome for all of us. Not only is she representing herself, but she is representing our team. And I think it is a really neat thing. Playing the violin is something that is really really hard. I don’t really see many people do it. It’s just really cool,” said senior guard Loren Gehret.
“I just think it’s really cool she can do both. It just shows how many skills and talents she really has,” stated senior forward Alli Griscavage.
Post-game interviews at Southern Columbia can be a little bit tricky because when you ask someone what they thought of Michaela Williams’ performance, you have to be a little more specific.
“On the court, she is an amazing basketball player, but when she is playing that violin, I’m like this girl, we are going to see her in Super Bowl at a halftime performance or something because she is that good with the violin,” predicted Shannon Dickey, Michaela’s basketball coach.
Another coach at the game is Michaela’s violin teacher, Jennifer Updegrove is among many in the stands who cheer Michaela on as a basketball player while adding support on a musical level.
“I tell her to focus on the story she has to tell with the music that she is playing and with our National Anthem, it is very important because we are honoring our nation and what our flag stands for,” said Updegrove.
Michaela says the discipline needed to play violin and piano helps her to compete in soccer and basketball. She looks forward to improving in both worlds while enjoying a longer timeline with the violin.
“I can only go so far with sports, but I will have my violin for the rest of my life,” stated Michaela.
She is aware many of the basketball fans are young children who perhaps wonder if they can follow her lead.
“To anyone who sees me and says ‘Oh, I want to do what that girl does,’ I encourage them to try it. Because it may look hard, but with a lot of hard work it really pays off,” described Michaela.
Here’s to you, Michaela!
If you have a kid Eyewitness News should feature on, Here’s To You Kid!, send in a nomination online.