TABOR, Iowa — After a grueling two-hour practice, Macy Williams moves the ball rack into place. Words aren't necessary.
The Fremont-Mills sophomore launches shot after shot, honing her craft. The affirmation comes in the form of the frequent swish sounds. Her father and coach, Rod, rebounds.
Fifty made 3-pointers. Fifty made jumpers. Ten made free throws. Only then can they call it a night.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a western Iowa girls basketball player more dedicated than Williams. The past two summers, she's made the five-hour round-trip drive twice a week to Ames for practices with the All-Iowa Attack. During breaks from her full slate of activities, it's not uncommon for her to spend four or five hours in the gym, with only her music as a companion.
Williams wants to play Division I basketball. She wants to lead the Knights to their first state tournament since 1965 before she leaves. At 5-foot-6, she knows the only way to get there is to plant herself in the gym.
“If I take a couple days off, I feel like I'm breaking the law,” she said.
Fremont-Mills is gaining ground, but it still has plenty of work to do. The Knights are 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Corner Conference heading into Friday's home game with Sidney. Williams is averaging 14.5 points, 6.3 assists and 3.5 steals.
It's an adjustment for any player who goes from playing high-level summer AAU competition to her high school program. At Class 1-A Fremont-Mills it's no different, as she goes from a wing player who concentrates heavily on defense for the Attack to a do-it-all role at F-M, where she's expected to carry the scoring load and also set up her teammates.
“It was a tough transition for her last year,” Rod Williams said. “I think she's done a super job this year, making her teammates better around her. Her teammates have gotten 10 times better this year.”
The youngest of four children, Macy watched brothers Justin and Nick and sister Chelsey excel in sports. Nick is a freshman defensive back on the Morningside football team which plays Marian (Ind.) for the NAIA national championship Thursday night.
When Chelsey Williams (now Zimmerman) left home to play at Dana College, Macy Williams knew as a fourth-grader that she eventually wanted to play beyond high school, too.
Rod Williams coached Macy's Fremont-Mills team from third through sixth grades. Then Macy Williams joined the AAU circuit, playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers after her sixth-grade year and finishing fourth at nationals. That year was an eye-opener.
“It definitely showed me what it was going to take, compared to what I thought it was going to take,” she said. “That's kind of when I flipped the switch.”
She played a year with the Western Iowa Express before joining the Attack. She's taken lessons from several top-notch tutors and formed her individual workouts from a combination of those tutors, YouTube videos and websites.
“Weekends are more my grind, where I do ball-handling, layups, all the moves,” she said. “I love just being at the gym four or five hours. That's where I get the hardest work done, when I can just turn on the radio and focus.”
Opposing coaches are aware of Williams' dedication.
“You will not find a more dedicated or hard-working kid anywhere,” Sidney coach Dave Dowling said. “She is an incredible talent that has made herself that way.”
Rod Williams has seen more of a commitment from all of the Knights. They are in the weight room more consistently, which gives them a greater sense of confidence on the court. Sophomore Taryn Williams is averaging 13.8 points, while seniors Emily Smith (5-6) and Kendall Fichter (5-5) and sophomore Andrea McClary (6-0) have been the other starters.
To understand what it takes to get to the top, the Fremont-Mills girls don't have to look far. The Knights football team won the 2011 Eight-Man title with an 81-0 victory in the championship game.
“There was no time last year by talking to any of them that they had any doubt that they were going to go out there and take care of business,” Rod Williams said. “That's the way I want my girls team to do it. But it doesn't happen overnight.”
The Knights hope to make significant strides during the regular season, then make a postseason run.
“It's going to take a ton of commitment,” Macy Williams said. “We know that. And time. But I think everyone's on the same page.”
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