Scholar Athlete: Natchez senior sits atop class, basketball rankings
NATCHEZ — Being a part of a state championship winning team takes enough work in itself, but also being the potential valedictorian on top of that seems nearly unimaginable.
Natchez High senior E’Keria Williams is on track to do just that, though.
Williams, who was a member of last year’s Class 5A state champions and is a part of this year’s team who boasts a 16-1 record, also sits atop of the senior class with a 4.28 GPA.
“I know how to prioritize and use my time,” said Williams of having to juggle school and basketball. “When it comes to schoolwork, that is first, then basketball.”
But Williams said she has had her fair share of challenges, especially last year.
“During my junior year, I had a basketball game one night and then a physics test the next day,” she said.
While Williams isn’t logging 20 minutes a game for the Lady Bulldogs, she is still a major contributor on the team.
“She is actually a tutor,” Natchez head coach Alphaka Moore said. “Anytime someone needs help, I tell them, ‘You better talk to E’Keria.’ If they are struggling, I’ll just start yelling, ‘E’Keria, she needs help.’ That is her role.”
Williams said she doesn’t feel pressure having to field questions from geography to math and English. In fact, she enjoys it.
“It feels good to be depended on,” she said. “Knowing that people need you, you can feel that.”
Moore said she expects Williams to have no problem excelling in life once she leaves Natchez High.
“Wherever she goes, I know she is going to be successful,” Moore said. “She studies hard and isn’t satisfied with just an ‘A’, she has to have an ‘A+’.”
Unlike some, Williams didn’t get into basketball until she was in high school.
“I started playing in the ninth grade,” she said. “It looked fun and was interesting. I had never played basketball in my life before, but I just wanted to try something new, and I learned to love it.”
Williams said she has been thinking about college for some time now, but hasn’t solidified her choice just yet.
“I have some offers from Millsaps, Belhaven, Alcorn, Jackson State, Mississippi State and even some colleges in New York,” she said. “But I’m still choosing.”
Williams is hoping to continue her studies in the medical field when she steps onto a college campus.
“I want to become an anesthesiologist,” she said. “It sounds like an interesting job. I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field, so that is something that should be challenging and fun for me.”
But for now, Williams is focused on trying to win another state championship with the Lady Bulldogs and becoming valedictorian.
“It would be awesome,” she said of being the top of her class. “That means that all my hard work and grinding in the books paid off.”