Sports Person of the Week
Soccer is a Way of Life for Williams
Ben Williams helped the H-K boys’ soccer team have a season for the ages last fall. A junior captain midfielder, Ben earned All-Shoreline Conference honors for the league champion Cougars. (Photo courtesy of Ben Williams )
Ben Williams fondly remembers the first time that he experienced the sport of soccer. It wasn’t in a highly competitive setting. Instead, Ben’s first taste of soccer came while he was having fun with two of his favorite people—his father Chris and his older brother Thomas.
Ben spent a lot of time running around the front yard with his brother and his dad as a youngster. Ben’s father would act as the universal goalie for the two siblings as they started to learn the basics of the sport. Ben didn’t know it at the time, but he was taking the first steps on a journey that would lead him to the boys’ soccer squad at Haddam-Killingworth High School, where he is currently in his junior year.
“I have been playing soccer ever since I can remember. I was introduced to the sport by my father and my older brother. My first games ever were played in my front yard with my father and brother,” Ben says. “Ever since I started, I was hooked on the sport. My favorite part of soccer is the team aspect. It is rewarding to see everyone on the field working for one another during the game.”
Ben served as a junior captain for the H-K boys’ soccer team during the 2020 fall season, leading the Cougars alongside senior captain Colby Whitehead. A midfielder, Ben finished the year with six goals and eight assists on his way to making the All-Shoreline Conference Second Team. Ben wound up helping H-K have a landmark campaign that saw the team post a record of 8-3-2 and claim the Shoreline Conference crown—just one year after the Cougars had gone 2-14.
“My favorite moment this season was definitely winning the Shoreline title,” says Ben. “After our difficult year last year, it was so rewarding to see our hard work pay off.”
H-K welcomed first-year Head Coach Mike Mead to the sidelines last fall. Mead describes Ben as a coach’s dream and one of the hardest workers on H-K’s roster. Mead says that Ben was often the first one in and the last one out even while dealing with an injury, and he feels that type of dedication led to the midfielder’s success on the pitch.
“This was a very big year for Ben. He had to overcome so much this year with injury and playing out of position as a natural forward. He was able and willing to adapt no matter what the sacrifice was and was always looking out for the team,” says Mead. “Ben has consistently played at the top level of the conference for two years now. A very strong senior campaign is in store for Ben, as we all look forward to seeing endless amounts of his highlight plays.”
Ben says that Mead is one of the best coaches he’s ever worked with. Ben knows that Coach Mead played a huge role in the Cougars’ turnaround last year.
“When Coach Mike became our head coach, he made it a priority to build relationships with the players,” Ben says. “He truly cared about every player. This attitude resulted in good relationships with the players. Moreover, he was open-minded and listened to me when I had feedback on a game or practice.”
One major change that Ben made to his game entering the 2020 season was viewing soccer as more of a lifestyle. Ben wanted to improve in every aspect of the sport, so he devoted lots of time to the sport during the preceding offseason. Ben also stays active by playing offseason club soccer for the CT Rush.
“I truly believe that making something your lifestyle is the best way to improve. Therefore, I try to integrate as many aspects of soccer into my life as possible,” says Ben, an honors student at H-K. “Whether it’s focusing on my diet, lifting, or watching film, I am always looking to improve by making my lifestyle revolve around getting better.”
Aside from soccer, Ben competes for the H-K wrestling team. Ben has wrestled since the age of 11 and enjoys the physicality of the sport. Ben took fourth place in the 138-pound weight class at last year’s Class S State Championship, helping the Cougars finish second as a team, and then advanced to the quarterfinals of his division at the State Open.
Looking ahead to his senior soccer season, Ben has big expectations about what H-K can accomplish. The Cougars are losing several key players from last year’s team, but Ben has confidence that they will once again prove a solid squad. Ben wants to do everything that he can to help H-K have another memorable campaign in his senior year.
“Though we are losing many big players this year, I am confident in our returning players,” Ben says. “If we continue to work hard, I have no doubt we will find success.”