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WesFILES Player: Military Upbringing Gives Williams Ability to Tackle Anything That Comes His Way

Photo by TJ Dowling
Photo by TJ Dowling

Growing up in a military family can be very challenging. As a young child, you have to quickly become accustomed to moving to different places and making new friendships. Senior defensive lineman Grant Williams has had the privilege of being raised in a military family, which has provided him with a unique perspective on the world and helped him in his transition from high school to college. 

When Williams was young, his father's position in the army meant that his family relocated quite a few times. Moving around as a child, Williams was able to see different parts of the United States and meet a variety of different people. He was also fortunate enough to live on-base, which gave him and his family immediate connections and an instant extended family.

Living on base for the Williams' family meant having a close-knit community, one that shared summer barbecue's and holiday gatherings. It also meant that when military spouses were deployed, they were all able to be there to support each other. Having this sense of connection was great for Williams because it meant having people around him that truly understood the sacrifices his father was making for the country, and how it impacted his family life.

Despite bouncing from town to town during his early childhood, heading into fifth grade was a special year for Williams. At the time, he had been living in Kentucky, however, right before the start of the school year, his family got the call that they would be relocating to Washington. The call about relocating brought many different emotions to the Williams family, and to Grant. He had made strong friendships in Kentucky, which he would sadly have to leave behind. Before the days of advanced technology, Williams wasn't sure he would ever see these friends again. In addition to this, the family would be living off-base for the first time in his life, a new lifestyle that he had not experienced.

With the move came many challenges and new experiences. Living off-base meant making friends with people who were not from military families – people who did not share the same perspective or experiences that his family had. But despite the initial change, Williams thrived in this environment. The move meant that he was able to meet people that shared different experiences growing up, and he was able to learn from them. This became a pivotal year for Williams, one where he saw a lot of growth in himself.

While his father was on deployment, Williams felt it was part of his responsibility within his family to step up and help out more. Despite still only being in fifth grade, Williams took on family duties, something that not all kids his age were doing. Helping out when his dad was on deployment allowed Williams to approach situations with a unique perspective, "Most daily problems are not as big of a deal as we make them out to be; it just depends on how you approach the situation and how much mental capacity you allow it to consume."

Williams didn't know it at the time, but the move to Washington would be his family's last relocation. He was able to strengthen friendships he had made and after starting football in middle school, he went on to play throughout high school. Williams had a very successful career in high school, with his breakthrough year coming when he was a junior. Because Williams learned at a young age how to adapt quickly to different environments, it is not a surprise that he excelled when his high school coaches switched his position during his junior campaign.

Through his sophomore year, Williams had been playing on the defensive line, but his coaches decided to try him out at linebacker. During the 2015 season, Williams recorded 90 tackles, five sacks and forced four fumbles. As he excelled in this new position, he garnered First Team All-Narrows 3A accolades and began setting his sights on playing at the collegiate level.

After a storied high school career, Williams found himself the perfect home at a school on the other side of the country, Wesleyan University. Despite being on opposite ends of the United States, Williams had no trouble adapting to his new life in Connecticut. His ability to quickly adapt to new environments and make friends was something that came easily to him as he adjusted to life as a Division III football player.

During his career at Wesleyan, Williams has amassed 76 tackles (30 solo), 8.5 sacks and was named a 2016 Second Team All-NESCAC selection following his sophomore campaign. Last year, playing as a defensive tackle, Williams ranked among the team leaders in tackles-for-loss with five for 29 yards and totaled 26 stops on the season for the Cardinals, earning him First Team All-NESCAC Defense accolades.

As Williams' career at Wesleyan comes to a close, there is no doubt that he will continue being able to tackle anything that comes his way.

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FAVORITES

Movie: Friday Night Lights

Music: Rap & Jazz

Pro Athlete: Aaron Donald

Food: Tacos 

Started Football: Seventh grade

Best Kept Secret: Likes to drive a lot.

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