Friends help pave way to success for junior

Published 12:03 am Saturday, April 12, 2014


Straughn juniors Paige Taylor (left) and Katelyn Kinsaul (far right) influenced Jacie Williamson (center) to hit the hardwood when they were youngsters. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn juniors Katelyn Kinsaul and Paige Taylor thought it would be a good idea for Jacie Williamson to play basketball.

Their idea paid off, as several years later, Williamson is a finalist for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Girls Class 3A Player of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the Mr. and Miss Basketball Banquet on Wednesday at the Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery.

Williamson said being selected as a finalist for the Player of the Year Award is rewarding.

“It’s an honor,” Williamson said. “I know I couldn’t have done it without any of them — the whole team — and support from the rest of my friends who aren’t on the team; and my dad, my coaches and just the rest of my family.”

It was her team’s support that helped Williamson get better, and helped land her a spot on the ASWA’s Class 3A All-State first team. She averaged 19.3 points per game, seven rebounds and one assist. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark earlier in the season.

Back in the fourth grade, Kinsaul and Taylor approached Williamson about playing the sport.

“We just started talking to her and told her she should start playing basketball,” Kinsaul said. “She wasn’t too big into sports before we started talking her into it.”

While playing in the little league as youngsters, Kinsaul, Taylor and Williamson never played on the same team.

Early on, Williamson said she was a bit scared of the crowd. That fear went away when she played in her first game.

“I know my dad (Jimmy) told me to forget about it while I was playing,” Williamson said. “I think Paige and Katelyn were telling me that, too.”

Both Kinsaul and Taylor said it wasn’t until seventh grade that they saw that Williamson was a pretty good player.

“We were little and we were playing around,” Kinsaul said. “We didn’t know until about seventh grade that she had some good potential.”

In order to make her a better player, Taylor and Kinsaul fed Williamson as often as they could every game.

“Say me and Jacie are doing moves down low; I try to guard her as hard as she can to make it where it’s hard so she can get better,” Taylor said.

Kinsaul and Taylor said it was pretty awesome to learn that their best friend was up for a big award.

“It’s awesome to have someone on your team, let alone your best friend (as a finalist for the award),” Taylor said. “Since we’re really close, it’s really neat to be able to share the experience.”

Kinsaul is the daughter of Brett and Sharon Kinsaul; Taylor is the daughter of Trent and Patty Taylor; and Williamson is the daughter of Jimmy and Kellie Williamson.