By STEVEN ROBENAULT, Guest Columnist
Synonymous with the bold block M is a rich and storied tradition of excellent athletic competition and pride. Names like Schembechler, Brady, and Webber are revered at Michigan for their exploits on and off their respective fields of play.
But on Feb. 7 at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Fieldhouse, another name not as well known joined these giants in the history of Michigan athletics. In an afternoon matchup against Lourdes University, senior Jalissa Williams scored her 1,500th career point, an exclamation mark on an incredible season and remarkable career. According to WHAC.net, Williams is the first UM-Dearborn women’s basketball player to score 1,500 career points since Kellie Taylor in 1997.
Right after tipoff, it was apparent the Wolverines were determined to fight with everything they had. Coming out of the gate strong, the Wolverines raced out to an 11-2 lead forcing Lourdes to take an early timeout.
As if it were scripted, Williams scored the team’s first points, and she was involved in seemingly everything early on. The team seemed to feed off her energy.
Throughout the game Williams displayed great resilience fighting for rebounds and attempting contested shots. As is the case with great leaders, her play helped others to rise up and perform as well. Not to be lost in her outstanding accomplishment, the entire UM-Dearborn team played a solid and entertaining game. As the game went on, Williams was a key factor in stemming the late surge by Lourdes.
In the second half with slightly more than two minutes left, Williams was fouled on a field goal attempt. Number 32 stood at the free throw line with confidence, raised her arms, then launched the ball in the air. She has made this motion countless times as a basketball player, but this particular time, when the ball swished through the net, it was officially point number 1,500. For good measure she made the second one too.
Williams finished the game two blocks shy of a triple-double, proving she is undoubtedly an all-around talented player.
A milestone such as this is a rare occurrence for any college player. Until it was announced after that second free throw; however, Williams had no idea about her accomplishment.
“I really didn’t know at the time,” she admitted after the game. “It was really surprising… and we won so that was the cherry on top.”
Williams is a great leader on the court but is always quick to praise others. Looking back, she is grateful for her teammates and everyone else who has helped her improve as a basketball player.
“My teammates have been really encouraging… sometimes you feel like ‘I just don’t want to do this anymore,’ but your teammates really help you through it,” she said.
Obviously, the support she has received paid off in a big way.
With a smaller campus and student body, UM-Dearborn athletics seem almost an afterthought compared to the grandeur of Ann Arbor. Yet once every so often a gifted athlete comes to star for the Wolverines playing in Dearborn.
Jalissa Williams is that athlete. Unfortunately, time is running out to witness her exceptional ability. There are only four games left for the Wolverines women’s basketball team. The last home game will be against Indiana Tech on Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m., a final sendoff before one of UM-Dearborn’s best graduates.