By Steev Riccardo
Oxford High School senior Michelle Williams makes no bones about it, she is a field hockey player and loves the sport through and through.
This past season she was named to the Central Mass All-Star team after having a remarkable year with 28 goals and 13 assists, while leading her team to an amazing 18-0 regular season and a top seed in the Central Mass Division 2 tournament.
Williams has played her entire incredible career under Oxford High School head field hockey coach Shayna Mandella, and even though she didn’t initially want to play the sport, she became a star after of years of hard work.
“I never really wanted to play field hockey but my friends in the eighth grade wanted me to play intramurals with them because they didn’t have enough players on their team. At first I was, no I really don’t want to play, and then I started to play and we won the intramural championship, and I fell in love with the sport.” said Williams.
She then tried out for and made the middle school team, and they ended up having “a really good season.” She became hooked even further.
The summer before entering her freshmen year at Oxford, she went to a field hockey camp at Holy Cross, so she “could be good” before starting her high school career.
In her freshmen year, she played for both the junior varsity and the varsity team and called it “the best time ever.”
From that point on, she went to several camps, played indoor field hockey and got better and better in her sophomore and junior years.
“I never scored much, and then in my senior year all the hard work paid off” and she became a prolific scorer, netting 28 goals, which is pretty remarkable.
When named to the Central Mass All-Star team, Williams was “thrilled. It was amazing, I worked my butt off to play field hockey and to be rewarded was nice. It acknowledged the time and hard work that I had put into it.”
Williams gives a lot of credit for her success to her long time coach Mandella, who she says “was always there for me, teaching me a lot.”
Lauren Chenevert, coach/coordinator with Worcester County WCU, was also a tremendous influence for Williams. “She taught me so much, I never really new the right way to play and she helped me approach it completely different and it worked.”
She also went to a clinic coached by Becker College’s Ginger Dailey, which further contributed to her development as an all-star.
Besides all of this is the the fact that Williams played with the same group of girls throughout her career, and that proved to be the best part of the whole experience.
Teammates Katy McCarthy, Linda Tron, Jenna Mandella, and honorable mention all-star/goal keeper Lauren Pushys, were always there for Williams. “We have been playing together since middle school and we been through a lot together, camps, clinics, they taught me a lot. We had a great relationship and we are all best friends.”
Williams has definite plans to play field hockey at the college level. She is being heavily recruited but has not made up her mind yet on where she wants to play. She is looking for the best situation to combine academics and field hockey and has a lot of options to choose from.
Although she is somewhat undecided about a career path, field hockey opened her up to the fields of science and athletic training, and because of some of her injuries she became curious about the area of healing.
Williams says she owes a lot to her parents, Brian and Kathleen Williams, who were a “huge influence” on her and supported her attendance at all the camps and clinics.
Oxford High School Principal Kevin Wells is also a big fan of Williams and her family. “Michelle is an outstanding student athlete, and I say student first. Her parents are very involved; they are at the forefront of running our booster club. They have put many hours into fundraising for Oxford athletics and contribute to the cultural enrichment programs that we have here as well, he said.
“Michelle loves field hockey and has put a tremendous amount of time into team building. Our field hockey team used to be one of the weaker teams in the league and now, because of going to summer camps and summer leagues and playing in the winter time, our program has really turned around. Michelle was one of the driving forces behind that,” he added.
Michelle is also member of the National Honor Society, and when not studying, likes to hang out with her friends and go dancing, and, of course, she goes to the gym regularly.
“She is a great kid and a powerful example for young women who are coming up to the high school level to emulate,” said Wells.
A lot of people at Oxford High School and in the Oxford community feel the same way about Michelle Williams as he does.