By Craig Rybczynski – February 4, 2011
When Shawn Williams was growing up he spent hours at the lacrosse rink, hanging out with his dad and his teammates. There is no surprise then that the 10-year Knighthawk veteran is often followed around by his entourage of supporters, which includes his sons, Dyson and Tucker.
Shawn takes his five and 11-year-old kids to every home game and they work on the turf before the game as ball boys. They are also very visible before the game, hanging out with their dad in the locker room. It is a bond that Williams cherishes, especially considering 2011 is his 14th season in the NLL.
“It is really important to me. Having family there always keeps everything in perspective. I was always hanging around my dad and his teams back in the day and I had so much fun,” he said. “I was so lucky to be on the floor with all the great players of his time. When we (Tam and I) first started having kids I couldn’t wait for them to be old enough to come hang out and be a part of the team.”
Having the team-first mentality has always been the mantra for Williams, who is a leader on and off the turf for the Knighthawks. This season is his third wearing the “C” given to the team captain. In Boston on January 22nd, he showed why the coaching staff has so much faith in No. 51. Williams led a four-goal, fourth-quarter rally with two goals and two assists. He capped off his evening by assisting on the overtime game-winning goal.
“We made a lot of changes this offseason, but ‘Willie’ is a mainstay in Rochester,” said Head Coach Mike Hasen. “Williams is a voice on the floor and in the locker room.”
Last season, the 36-year-old Williams was awarded the 2010 NLL Sportsmanship Award after recording 23 goals and 46 assists in 15 games. Williams has been one of the most prolific scorers in team and league history. On the Knighthawks’ all-time list, he ranks second 745 points, 293 goals and 454 assists. In NLL history, the Scarborough, Ontario, native is seventh in goals (378), sixth in points (914), and is fourth in assists (536). He is a two-time NLL All-Pro and has won two NLL titles (1999 and 2007.
On January 25th, he became only the sixth player in league history to reach 900 career points. He is also just 22 goals away from passing former Philadelphia Wing Tom Marechek (399) for sixth on the all-time goals list. Williams, who leads Rochester with 21 points, does not dwell on his points but the team’s wins and losses. Currently, Rochester is in a three-way tie for third in the East Division with a 2-2 record, which includes two straight home losses. After the K-Hawks’ 16-7 loss to Boston this past Saturday, the captain addressed the media.
“Their backs were against the wall and they had nothing to lose,” he said. “Everyone was trying. It is not from a lack of trying. You have to realize you have to settle it down and take it one shift at a time.”
Williams was just happy to be ready for the season. After winning a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2010 FIL World Lacrosse Championships and playing for the Major League Lacrosse Toronto Nationals, he had a major setback. Williams’ summer season was cut short in Game 4 of the MSL Semifinals, as he was driving toward the net. That’s when the wooden stick of one of the Six Nations’ defenders contacted and broke his arm. Williams was having a superb semifinal, scoring four goals and adding three assists in two games. He also finished tied for fifth in Major Series Lacrosse with 34 assists during the regular season. It was a tough break, but Williams fought through the first major injury of his career.
“It was a tough go. Post surgery was tough physically than the mental games came into play. Not being able to train and prepare for a season the way you are used to was very tough,” said Williams. “My family thought maybe it was a bit of blessing just to slow me down a bit and take a couple of breaths (It didn’t work. The cast, which was up and over my elbow, drove me bonkers).”
He had his family to keep him busy, which also includes his wife, Tamara, and daughter, Dylana. Williams balances a schedule that takes him all over Ontario with his kids, as Dyson and Tucker both play lacrosse. This summer, Shawn coached his oldest son’s teams to both box and field Provincial Championships.
“I love coaching my kids. It is a great experience,” said Williams.
Not only does he teach his own kids about the game, but he does so for a living. Williams works as a physical education teacher for the Durham District School Board. It allows him to coach junior varsity football at Donald A. Wilson Secondary School, and serve as a varsity lacrosse coach for the Wilson Gators.
That’s a hefty schedule when factoring in his kids’ schedules and playing for four lacrosse teams in the past 12 months. The key to his life has been a steady foundation at home. As the old saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life.” Williams gives his wife well-deserved credit for his success.
“Without a doubt, I would not be able to do all of this without her. She is my biggest fan (besides my parents) and obviously a huge support in my life,” he said. “With all that’s going on in our lives she gives me the time I need to play the game I live for.”
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