Nolan Williams: saved by a chance to play2 min read

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RAJVIR KAUR / LA VOZ WEEKLY

De Anza shooting guard Nolan Williams

Rajvir Kaur

Nolan Williams was a sixth-grader playing on a court by the beach in Chicago, IL one day when a man came up to him and asked, “Have you ever played organized basketball?”
The man, Coach Marvin, invited the kid into a park district league. That’s when Williams, 12 at the time, started playing organized basketball.
Basketball turned into Williams’ escape from life and family issues.
He played under coach Vince Carter at the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, a four-year magnet high school on the northside of Chicago.
Williams, 21, described basketball as “the one thing” he is good at and that it has the power to change his life.
Williams played basketball for De Anza College in 2010. About halfway through the season, he went back to Chicago and attended Triton College.
He returned to De Anza as a sophomore in 2012.
Though he misses Chicago’s food, Chinese food in particular, he said he loves the environment of De Anza.
“The people are a lot friendlier here,” Williams said. “You could be yourself and more of a people person here than back home.”
Williams said that since he is always trying to make jokes and ease the awkwardness, most people don’t know that he is a shy person.
When he was first introduced into the 2012-13 team, Williams kept to himself, describing himself as “a little bit older” than his teammates. Williams said it was awkward because he was focused on himself.
Head coach Jason Damjanovic said Williams was trying to find his place and that though he was here in 2010, Williams did not want to “step on any toes of any of the other sophomores that had been here.”
When the season began, Williams had unlimited  potential but lacked in maturity, Damjanovic said.  
But over time, Williams gained confidence, matured and has evolved into a leader figure within the team.
“He’s our go to guy,” Damjanovic said. “It is evident when he is not there, we’re not as good as we can be.”
Aside from a boost in confidence and stronger shooting, Williams said he has improved most in being a better team player.
Williams chose to major in marketing because he likes the business environment. He said he wants to promote a products and try to sell them, whether to companies or consumers.
After overcoming many obstacles, Williams is focused on his future, he said. He credits basketball and all the people who helped point him in the right direction.
Having lost his mother at an early age and being estranged  from his father, Williams’s family are his grandparents, his coaches and others who looked out for him.
“I’ve made so many hurdles in life…I could have easily been dragged into negativity,” Williams said. “But I overcame that and that’s why I’m all in with basketball.”

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