Putting Her Best Foot Forward

Dec. 10, 2012

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By Hannah Sedigh

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - She is an NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Second-Team American in the long jump, a Conference USA Indoor long jump champion, a school record-holder and a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier.

Sonnisha Williams is one of the most decorated jumpers in UCF history. She has been known as many things throughout her years as a Knight, but perhaps the most important term is student-athlete.

Even during her earliest days at UCF, it was obvious to Williams the level of importance that the word student in student-athlete held. Now a senior, she continues to carry herself with the mentality that success academically is just as important as success on track.

"I feel like they [education and athletics] go hand and hand, because without the academics I wouldn't be able to compete on the track," Williams said. "So I work as hard as I can in the classroom to make sure that when I am done with track I can have a backup plan."

Hoping to find a major that would allow her to apply what she does on the track to the classroom, Williams found the perfect fit in sport and exercise science. Williams' goal is to become a teacher or a coach. Looking to emulate her high school volleyball coach, she is enthused with that idea of being able to nurture kids through sports and education.

"I love working with kids and teaching them the basics about sports," Williams said.

Williams is given plenty of opportunity to get out and work with children while doing something else she loves - community service. Her passion stems from giving back to a community that has given so much to her.

"I love all types of community service. I think that it is something great we can do," Williams said. "I feel like from where we sit and where we stand it's just good for us to go back into the community and volunteer and to show our faces to show that we care about more than just coming to the meets."

Being a UCF student-athlete has also given Williams some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to grow and learn from. This past summer she was one of four Knights to qualify to participate in the U.S. Olympic Trials. In Eugene, Ore., she was able to meet one of her idols, gold medalist Sanya Richards Ross, and came to realize everything that she was capable of.

"You always have to believe in yourself and put your best foot forward because if you do that then everything you do is going to be possible," Williams said.

A firm believer that anyone with the right mindset can succeed, Williams already thinks like a teacher when giving advice to the underclassmen about succeeding in the classroom.

"I tell them, make sure to go to class and pay attention. Because if you do, and you ask questions and ask the teachers for help, there is no reason to not succeed," she said.

This story appears in the November issue of Knights Insider magazine. The publication, which is published six times per year, provides an inside look at UCF student-athletes, coaches and alums. To order the magazine, .