Wildcats’ Williams claims ESPY award
Jada Williams knew something was going on, but the Blue Springs High School freshman sensation just didn’t know what.
“I got a phone call from my trainer, and he said ‘Be at the gym at 3 p.m.’ And that was it. I called him like 50 times and he never answered his phone, and I was so mad at him.
“Then my mom said she didn’t know anything, and my mom always knows what’s happening. But when I found out what was going on I was so surprised and happy.”
When Williams – who played a big role in the Blue Springs girls basketball team earning a spot in the Class 5 final four, only to have the games canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic – walked into the gym, it was filled with familiar faces and cameras.
That’s when she learned that she had won the Honorary ESPY as the Missouri Girls High School Athlete of the Year, presented by Sports Radio 810 WHB. The winners were determined by an online vote.
She joins Blue Springs graduate Taysean Goodwin, a senior at Emporia State University, as an Honorary ESPY winner. The track standout won as the metro area’s Male Small College Athlete of the Year (see separate story on B2).
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said Friday morning. “I’d asked all my friends to vote for me, but I didn’t know if I had any chance of winning. An honor like this, or when I was (The Examiner) Co-Player of the Year (sharing the award with fellow freshman Grace Slaughter of Grain Valley) will only make me work harder.
“No one can push me harder than I push myself. Something like this just pushes me to want to get better – to work on the areas of my game that need work.
“I am working, training, playing with our underclassmen because we want the chance to go back to the final four next year – and have the chance to play.”
She paused for a moment and added, “And I am so happy and proud of Taysean, he is a family friend and such a great person.”
When asked if an honor like this wipes away the disappointment of the pandemic robbing her of a final four appearance, she said, “I’ll have to say it’s a great honor, but it does not wipe away the disappointment of not being able to share the final four with my teammates – especially our seniors.
“I’m still sad for them, and that will never go away. But I am thrilled and honored to win the Honorary ESPY.”
Before her freshman year at Blue Springs, she and Slaughter starred in the 2019 Jr. NBA Global Championship in Orlando, Florida, where their U.S. Central Region under-14 team went 7-0 and won the global championship by beating Canada 72-35 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.
Williams scored 11 points and added four assists in the championship win over Canada.
While playing for Blue Springs, Williams averaged 17.5 points per game, to go along with 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3 steals while being named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 all-state team.