This week’s guest won state championships in soccer at both McKinney North and McKinney Boyd and, after a decorated career at the University of Florida and playing professionally in National Women's Soccer League, is considered the best women’s soccer player in McKinney ISD history.
Please kick back and enjoy the McKinney Courier-Gazette’s Sunday Spotlight conversation with 2019 MISD Hall of Honor inductee Kathryn “Kat” Williamson.
What were the emotions when you found out that were going to part of the 2019 MISD Hall of Honor class?
Williamson: When I found out I was going to be part of the 2019 MISD Hall of Honor class I was absolutely elated. It’s definitely an honor and a reflection of not only my own work I put in during my soccer career, but countless friends, family and medical staff support to get the best out of me every single day.
I shared this sentiment at the induction ceremony, but I truly believe individual accolades (especially in a sport like soccer) are indicative of a team effort – the whole has always been greater than the sum of its parts for me.
If you had to pick, which of your two state championship teams was better: 2006 McKinney North or 2008 McKinney Boyd?
Williamson: That’s a tough question – it’s difficult to choose between the two teams because my experience as a player was so different considering I was an underclassman when we won at North and an upperclassman when we won at Boyd.
I honestly feel like both teams were great in their own ways. I was lucky to have had a stacked set of juniors and seniors to lead us at North and a very talented group of freshmen and sophomores to help support our upperclassmen at Boyd.
How did coming from the city of McKinney help prepare you for your world travels and the professional career you have carved out for yourself?
Williamson: McKinney will always be home to me – it’s where my closest friends were made, where I learned so many life lessons, and grew into the person I am today. The people I surrounded myself with in McKinney, and still today, always encouraged me to push myself to be the best I could which set me up for success later in life when I eventually made it to the professional level.
I am very thankful for McKinney ISD and the people who were central to my upbringing and shaping me.
What do you remember most about playing soccer at North and Boyd?
Williamson: I will always remember the support our team received at both North and Boyd. I think we set the standard for women’s soccer, not only in our region but in our state as well.
To think back on games where we had thousands of fans for a women’s high
school soccer game is pretty surreal and is a huge testament to the parity between
the three high schools at that time.
Who has impacted you the as a soccer player and how did they help you get to where you are at today?
Williamson: Hugh Bradford, my club soccer coach, has helped shape me into the person I am today. He attended my induction ceremony and is one of the best coaches, and people, I’ve ever had the opportunity to know.
After the passing of my father 20 plus year ago, Hugh stepped in to not only as my coach but as a father figure as well. He was in the recovery room for three out of my five knee surgeries and helped push me to be my absolute best when self-doubt would creep in.
He’s taught me how to win with humility and lose with grace and not to be afraid to push myself outside my comfort zone because that’s where life’s most important lessons are learned – teachings that extend far beyond the soccer field. I will always be grateful for his insights when I was a player, and even more so now as I venture into the next chapter of my life.
Do you recall what went into your decision to sign with the University of Florida and how did playing there help you become a professional soccer player?
Williamson: I knew I wanted to play for UF as soon as I walked on campus – the weather was perfect, the campus was stunning and the soccer team was a dominant force in the SEC.
I wanted to go to a school where I would be challenged both academically and on the playing field as well. The University of Florida provided both for me and I will be forever grateful for that.
How cool is it be working with one of the greatest athletes of all-time and be a part of the Jordan brand?
Williamson: I actually haven’t met MJ in person since joining the team nine months ago, but there’s no doubt that the man personifies greatness and the Jumpman Brand is no different.
I’m very blessed to go into work and be inspired by our message of fearlessness and to have the opportunity to share that with others is something I never take for granted.
Where do you see yourself at personally and professionally five years from today?
Williamson: Five years from today I hope to say that I’m just as passionate about my job after soccer as I was when I played. I hope to continue to inspire people through sport and wake up feeling thankful for the opportunity I was given.
Personally, I hope to continue life with my boyfriend and eventually start a family together in one location (long distance is no joke).