Amanda Williams (Millsboro, De./Delmarva Christian), striker for the women’s soccer team, learned that she had multiple sclerosis last October. Through her hardships, she has continued to put God first, and has worked hard to become the best soccer player she can be.
Last week, she scored three goals during the team’s 7-0 win against Sweet Briar [Sept. 16]. Her first collegiate hat trick, along with perseverance through extreme adversity, has gained Williams recognition as Royals Athlete of the Week.
“I’ve been trying my hardest,” Williams said. “Some days are harder than others but I feel like this season has been a lot better for me. I feel like it’s kind of clicking.”
Williams started playing soccer when she was only three years old, and dedicated her time to numerous travel teams. At Delmarva Christian High School, she recalls being the leading scorer of her team. There she became comfortable with her position as striker, but during her first year at Eastern Mennonite, she was switched to midfielder.
She remarked, “It messes with your mind when you play a position you don’t like.”
But her position change was not the only thing that was messing with her mind.
“I had really bad vertigo (last season) which is dizziness,” Williams explained. “I’d be running straight but I’d feel like I was going sideways, like I was on a ship. I had trouble talking a little bit, and had numbness in my hands and fingers. I also had a hard time focusing in class and was really tired.”
Multiple sclerosis, also known as “MS,” affects more than two million people worldwide. It is an incurable disease in which the immune system takes away from the protective wall of one’s nerves. With this disease symptoms may include problems with muscle control, balance, vision, or speech. Unfortunately, Amanda experienced all of them during her freshman season.
Multiple sclerosis is “basically it’s like lesions in my brain,” Williams explains. “So part of my brain is attacking itself. It can affect me in many different ways, I just realized I had it last October. I was suffering from the symptoms all season, which is a big difference between this season and last season. (This season) I’ve not really had symptoms. Last season I had no idea what was going on and I thought it was just me. I said to myself, ‘Oh it’s just college, it’s different, I’m stressed out,’ and I was just making a million excuses as to what was wrong with me. The trainers were finally at a point where they said I had to go to the hospital. So I went and three days later they told me I had MS.”
The doctor told Williams that the disease most likely began when she was only 12.
After she heard this news, she recalled many previous times when she was unexplainably sick. She finally knew the cause. However, she says it’s also hard knowing that she has a disease which doesn’t have a cure.
Once diagnosed, Williams decided that MS would not slow her down or make her change her work ethic. Over the summer she spent time teaching high schoolers, conditioning, and working on her skills.
She explained that coaching made her view soccer from a new perspective. Being a helper is something Williams is very good at. Not only is she a community assistant on campus, but she also serves as her team’s “spiritual leader.” She counts her friends at the top of her support system.
Having MS has put life into a new perspective, Williams says. “It makes little things not seem that bad. If I’m tired before a game I have to say, ‘You might not be able to walk one day, so play your hardest. No regrets.’ This year I want to get all A’s and I want to be able to say that I gave everything I had for soccer. I don’t care if I score again or not, just as long as I gave my best. That’s all that I really care about. I want to glorify God.”