Williams road to Tech HOF taught her hard work

Debra Williams will be inducted into the LA Tech Athletics Hall of Fame Friday, Oct. 7.

By Amber Barker

The storied program spoke for itself. But that’s not what sold Debra Williams. It was the emphasis on education that lined up with what her parents preached, and it was the way Coach Leon Barmore approached the subject that elicited immediate buy in from Williams.

“One thing that caught my attention when I went on my visit and got to speak to Coach Barmore is he said, ‘The program speaks for itself, so tell me what you want to major in’,” Williams recalled, as she noted most of her 48-hour visit was spent on learning about the School of Business.

“It meant a lot to me because it was the same thing my parents and high school coach preached to us – it was about academics; you can enjoy playing basketball now, but it doesn’t last forever. Getting your degree and putting it to use, that’s something nobody can ever take – that’s what stood out to me.”

Williams, a highly sought-after recruit, ended up being one of the top scorers in Lady Techster history, a 1996 Kodak All-American and three-time all-Sun Belt Conference honoree, but she said knowing Tech wanted her to have something after she finished “dribbling and shooting the basketball” was special. Along with her degree and priceless experiences from being a Lady Techster, Williams will have another honor to add to her own storied career when she is enshrined in the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame next month.

“I was delighted to hear the news,” said Williams. “I’m grateful they think what I did at Tech was good enough to be honored amongst all of these great athletes.”

And while Williams’ gratitude is evident, reflecting on the honor also carries a mix of emotions.

“For me to play the game of basketball, I didn’t play for these types of accolades. People thought what I contributed to Tech and the game – knowing that they thought I was worthy enough to be considered in this hall – different feelings start to happen,” she said, choking back tears.

“I felt a little sad because some of the main people who first got me involved – my parents, brother, they are no longer here to be with me on this day and help me celebrate this honor, but I accept it on their behalf, and I know they are proud of me.”

Being a Lady Techster and representing in Columbia blue not only skyrocketed Williams’ career but provided countless life lessons and lifelong memories

“My whole time at Tech was awesome from the recruiting trip, to choosing out of all the different universities I could’ve taken my talents to and down to the decision to why I chose; from all the great people I met who have been part of my life; the relationships I built with my sisters who I still keep in touch; to be able to be coached by such a great coaching staff and at such a small university,” she said.

“We were small in size, but we were big when it came to women’s basketball; being a Lady Techster was awesome, if you had that shirt on people automatically knew – when they talked about Tech and the Lady Techsters there was never a negative, it was all about respect of the program and coaches.”

She added it was the community support and the family atmosphere created that made Tech feel like home as soon as she stepped onto campus. That support, she noted, carried for miles and in all directions.

“There’s only a few universities that can say no matter what state or country you went to you had people who wanted to follow,” she reminisced.

Williams still ranks No. 13 in career scoring (1,749 points) and No. 6 in career three-pointers made (136). She was named to the all-Sun Belt Conference Tournament team all four years of her career, including being named MVP in 1994. She helped lead the Lady Techsters to four straight league titles and NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 1994 NCAA National Championship game. And she was selected in the third round of the 1997 WNBA Draft by the Charlotte Sting.

The honors are a direct result of what was instilled in Williams at an early age and continued into and after her Tech playing career – a culmination of what has helped make her a true Hall of Famer.

“I always want to give my best. My parents instilled in us that hard work pays off, and don’t wait for someone else to do it, those are the things I carry in my life today; keep working hard, being positive, and respectful,” she said.

“I didn’t play the game for the accolades. It feels like an individual accolade, but I wouldn’t be here without my family and the other ladies I played with. Hard work pays off; no matter what you do, as long as you work hard you get the results.”

The induction ceremony will take place Friday, Oct. 7 on Karl Malone Court at the Thomas Assembly Center. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the reception starting at 6 p.m. and the ceremony beginning at 7 p.m.

Tickets are still available. Ticket prices are $50 for one ticket or $400 for a table of eight. Any interested can click HERE.

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