Williams adapts to new role for Lady Thunderbirds

Robert Munoz, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·4 min read

Apr. 8—CHEYENNE — Kora Williams has accepted a change of roles for the Cheyenne East girls soccer team.

The three-year starter spent her freshman and sophomore campaigns as an anchor in the Lady Thunderbirds' defense. This season, she's been asked to step into a midfielder position to help coordinate and allow things to function fluently.

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It hasn't been the easiest task for Williams, but she's slowly gaining traction in her new position.

"It's been difficult, but it's getting better," Williams said. "I'm not very offensive minded, so I always think to defend before attacking. ... I'm the only returning defender, so we have a whole new back line, which also hasn't been easy."

Williams was supposed to adjust to her new spot on the field last season, but that opportunity was lost after the 2020 season was canceled.

The transition to midfielder was influenced by the lack of players the T-Birds had returning and Williams' fundamentals.

"The biggest thing was, coming back from two years ago, we didn't have anybody in the midfield who was going to be able to play that role," East coach Rebecca Valdez said. "We graduated two classes of midfielders, and (Williams) is probably the next most technical player we have on the field, so we asked her to play that role to connect the defense to the offense."

Connecting the defense to the offense has forced her to take a different approach to making plays, which includes attempting to turn defense into offense.

"It's been a change for her because she's more involved in the play," Valdez said. "Having to connect two lines has been more thinking for her, and she's had to utilize her skills a little more.

"It hasn't been easy, but she's been up to the challenge."

Although she's more in tune with being able to contribute as a defender, Williams knows her comfort level as a midfielder is slowly growing.

Having more opportunities to find the back of the net has helped with the increased comfort.

"I definitely like defense more because I'm more comfortable with it," Williams said. "But I've liked being able to attack and shoot more. It has helped me become more comfortable."

Williams credits her coaches for helping her with the adjustment, but Valdez emphasizes that open gyms have helped her develop more of an understanding for the new position.

"In a smaller, tighter space (like a basketball gym), when the ball rolls more on you, it demands more from you," the coach said. "Now, she has to be able to control the ball under pressure."

Being in the center of the action has forced Williams to become more vocal. She's also only one of three returning starters from East's 2019 team. The combination of those two things has put her into a leadership role, one that she might not have been in before.

"Two years ago, she was pretty quiet, and now you see her as a vocal leader, and it's been awesome to watch her grow," Valdez said.

On the diamond

Cheyenne Central and East will face off in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. today at the Cheyenne Junior League Complex. East will be at Wheatland for a doubleheader Friday, and Cheyenne South will host Campbell County for a 4 p.m. doubleheader.

Central hosts Wheatland on Saturday, and South hosts Thunder Basin. Both doubleheaders will start at 10 a.m.

Cheyenne Post 6 starts its season Friday with a game against Windsor at 6 p.m. at Powers Field. Post 6 will host Diamond Club and the Rockies Scout Team at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively, Saturday. The Sixers also play Diamond Club at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

On the field

The Central girls host Sheridan at 6 p.m Friday, while the East girls host Campbell County at the same time. South will be on the road at Thunder Basin for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

The East boys will be on the road at Campbell County, and the Central boys will travel to Sheridan. Both games are slated to start at 6 p.m. South hosts Thunder Basin at 6 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, the East girls host Sheridan, and Central hosts Campbell County. Those games will start at noon. The Central boys will be at Campbell County and the East boys will be at Sheridan for noon kickoffs.

On the track

Central, East and South will compete at the Okie Blanchard Invitational starting at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Burns will be at the Absaraka Expo, which starts at noon in Douglas.

Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at rmunoz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.