Life off the Pitch with Utah Warriors' Lance Williams
Lance marries his rugby commitments with a role as a special needs preschool teacher. Thoroughly enjoying his work off the field, the 27-year-old says that it was his grandfather that made him want to begin enriching the lives of children.
"My grandpa was a big role model in my life," Lance said. "He was the type of person who would always put others in front of himself, his family, the community and stuff like that. I always wanted to reflect off of that, to shadow what he did throughout my childhood - my life.
"Me and my two siblings were raised without a father, so grandpa was the male role model in my life. I was always involved with kids, I loved taking care of my brothers and cousins. I was always around family. I always wanted to give back.
"I did a lot of volunteering at the boys and girls cup throughout high school and in college I always wanted to be a school counsellor, so this is my first step towards that. I wanted to give back to special needs kids and to give back to kids because they are the next generation. Especially with special needs kids as I know everything is not fair for them."
Moving to the mainland after completing his education at the University of Hawai'i, where the former linebacker was a team captain for the college's football team. Playing rugby whilst growing up in Samoa and in Hawai'i, when it was not football season, Williams started playing the sport competitively for the West Valley Lions and the Utah Select 7s.
For the past three years, Lance has been working alongside his rugby commitments, giving away tickets to both his students and fellow members of staff to watch him in action at the Zions Bank Stadium.
Enjoying the support of his colleagues and students at the games they attended, Lance explains why his role is so fulfilling.
"They don't have the learning abilities that normal kids have," Lance said. "People think that they can't really function the way normal kids do when solving a problem or giving them a situation that is hard to solve. Giving them the standards and techniques that we teach them, it is so amazing.
"If it takes a day, a week or even a year, and they solve that problem, it is amazing to see. Just to see them solve that problem and that their hard work that they put in throughout the days, weeks and months to solve that, is just an amazing thing.
"That's the thing we want. We want to watch them solve problems in life and the way that they carry themselves throughout the school year."
Following two seasons in Major League Rugby, Lance Williams was unable to play a part in the 2020 season. Suffering a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament in the offseason, the flanker was unable to take the pitch in the five games prior to the League's shutdown.
In season two, Lance made the All-MLR 2XV, his performances for his team more than worth of that place. The blindside flanker has become renowned around the league for his abrasive style of play, the 27-year-old has carried on in the same fashion as he did as a football player in college. During his time with the Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors, Lance set the tackling record.
Immersing himself in the rugby landscape of Utah, he describes himself as a 'sponge' during those early days back playing regular rugby.
Still harboring hopes of representing the USA or even Samoa, Lance wants to carry on the development of the sport in the States as well, once his playing days are done.
"When my playing days are done, when my knees are done and I can't take it no more, I will pursue maybe becoming a teacher or a school counsellor and inviting my students to try rugby," A bit like how people recruit students to play football. I want to do the same as that, but for rugby.
"Just to say to them, to try out rugby. Maybe even start a team. Grab some of my friends, old teammates and coach a team at a school or a college. Start pushing this game of rugby and put this sport on the map."
To learn more about the Utah Warriors, visit their website or follow them on social media.
Written by MLR Correspondent Joe Harvey
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Major League Rugby Stories from October 12, 2020
- Life off the Pitch with Utah Warriors' Lance Williams - Utah Warriors
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