Student Spotlight: Kimaya Williams

Kenza Bey, Lucy Caroff (Sophomores)

The Obama Girls Basketball team is wrapping up an exceptional season. It beat teams that it hadn’t been able to in Obama history, like Penn Hills and Gateway. The team also recently won their sixth City League title. Kimaya Williams, a senior who recently committed to California University of Pennsylvania, was one of the driving forces behind the team’s success this season. Many high school athletes envision themselves competing in the NCAA, but only about 6% of high school athletes play college sports. Williams is not only part of the 6%, but received a full scholarship to play for CalU this fall.

Williams started playing basketball when she was three years old and is now approaching the 16th year anniversary of her start in basketball. She has always wanted to play college ball “I’ve always looked up to college basketball players,” said Williams. “I used to watch a whole bunch of basketball all the time and dream about being in their shoes one day.” 

Credit: Elijah Fitch

Williams has always been dedicated to the sport. She played for an AAU travel team through most of her career, which played a major role in her recruitment process. Williams received her first interest letter at twelve years old. 

She would play on teams with girls up to two years older than her, which drew coaches’ interest. Despite the good start she had when it came to college interest in her, like many things, the scouting process was negatively affected by the pandemic. “When COVID came around, it was just difficult for scouting. A lot of coaches had left schools and there were a lot of transfers to the schools that were recruiting me,” said Williams. “I had also reclassed because of COVID ‘cause I didn’t get a year of basketball, so that also threw off my scouting. It was really difficult because the coaches weren’t sure if they wanted me or not.” 

There comes a point in a highschool athletes’ career when players have to choose if they want to get serious or just stay in the game for fun. Williams decided to get serious and continue to pursue a path in basketball, but she says that she never lost her love of the game. 

Although this season went smoothly, Kimaya has had to stop playing due to injury in the past. Life without basketball was not the same, “I felt like I was dying without it,” said Williams.  Williams says that one of the things that keeps her motivated is not wanting to let anyone down. “I know that I can be great, so I don’t want to let my family down, let myself down, I don’t want to let anyone down.”

Williams is open to whatever life has planned for her. She says that she would love to continue playing basketball after college, and that she would happily play overseas if the opportunity presents itself, but, “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.” Williams considered different colleges, but after visiting various schools over the summer, she decided that CalU was where she wanted to go. “It’s a good school and I love the team,” Williams says. She plans to major in early childhood and elementary education. She aspires to become an elementary school teacher, and is motivated by her love for kids. Williams says that she gets a lot of inspiration from her mom, who also played basketball when she was younger. “She’s known for being a great person,” said Williams. Everybody that she has taught or has had connections with remembers her, and they remember her for good things, “that’s how I would like to be.” Williams says that her biggest supporter is her family. Williams ended her interview with a kind message to her team. “I really love my teammates a lot. I love them and I’m grateful for them.”

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