Sheree Williams of Bluffton has never backed down from a challenge or an opportunity.
After leaving home four years ago to attend one of the nation’s most challenging institutions, she has left an imprint and a legacy that will be felt for years to come at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.
Williams, a women’s basketball standout when she was at Bluffton High School, started 62 games and appeared in 101 contests in her Rose-Hulman basketball career, scoring 612 career points with 232 rebounds, 133 assists and 91 steals. However, numbers alone do not mark the impact of Williams on the Rose-Hulman basketball program. Her team leadership as a senior set the foundation for one of the program’s most successful seasons in school history.
After tearing an ACL as a junior, Williams said she really studied the game. “When I returned to the court as a senior, I had a better understanding of the game as a whole and tried to make a positive impact on and off the floor.”
That senior year made Rose-Hulman history in 2014-15. Rose-Hulman finished 14-13 overall for the third winning season in the program’s 20-year history and the first since 2006-07. They also ended a 16-game losing streak to in-state rival Hanover College.
The journey and the program turnaround have made the most impact on Williams.
“When I came to campus as a freshman, we had eight players,” she said. “Now we have 17. We were thrown into the fire and played a lot as freshmen. Although we were closer as players and people when we had fewer players, the team has a chance to compete for a conference championship now with all this depth,” said Williams.
Her story is much more than basketball, however. A two-time, all-region performer for coach Lonnie Roberts at Bluffton High School, Williams was also chosen to play in the South Carolina North-South All-Star Game as a senior in 2011. She developed an interest in going away from home to continue her education, and Rose-Hulman proved to be a perfect fit.
Some of that direction was helped by former Bluffton High School coach Kevin Robinson, who left to join the Rose-Hulman coaching staff in 2010.
“Coach Robinson came back to my high school and talked about a place in Indiana that was strong for math and science,” Williams said. “He asked me to look into Rose-Hulman.”
The biomedical engineering major expects to complete her degree in December. Between now and then, she is applying for academic co-ops and internships in her main interest area – preventing injuries or working with design and sales of braces that are a better fit for athletes at all levels.
Kevin Lanke is the Sports Information Director at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.