HANNA CITY, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Even in a pandemic, David Williams stays busy.
He’d like to be at a high school basketball game in his role as a Manual assistant coach. He’d like to be at a game scouting a future opponent.
Heck, he’d like to be going to University of Illinois basketball games this winter. He’s doing none of that.
But he’s still working out young players who are trying to improve their skills in a winter without a basketball season.
“Theses high school kids,” Williams said. “They’re not getting a year back like the college kids are. This is vital for them to get skills sharpened while sitting in a pandemic.”
He’s training small groups of clients, three days a week in a small Hanna City gym. It’s raelly his home away from home.
It’s where helped former Manual players Da’Monte Williams and Adam Miller develop into starters for the nationally ranked Illini.
These day, he and his players are wearing masks. Working out small groups of players who are not with their school teams because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“You have to work on your individual game to get better and work as a team,” said Richwoods High School grad Tianna Johnson, now a sophomore at New Mexico Junior College. “I think being here and improving translates to helping my teammates.”
Johnson has been training with Williams for four years. Her college basketball season in New Mexico is on hold and she is still home on a semester break.
The Illinois High School Association winter sports season is on hold as the state is still in Tier 3 COVID mitigations which prevent games, practices and in-person team activities. High school players are the bulk of Williams’ clientele.
“He’ll tell you straight to your face, no sugar coating if you’re doing something wrong.” said Washington High School junior Georgia Duncan. “I like that because it prepares me for the next level.”
Williams says he’s watched a lot of basketball on TV the past two months because he’s not at games around the state. He knows he’s providing a service for his players but he says it’s a two-way street.
The players who make the drive to his gym are helping him get through this pandemic as well.
“It’s the best part of my day. I look forward to it every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday,” Williams said. “I’m pretty excited about making kids better. It’s good seeing kids again, get them in the gym. They can be kids again.”