CONWAY, SC (WBTW) It’s senior day for the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team Saturday. After years of hard work it’s difficult on these young ladies to see it all end, but for one star senior on the Chanticleers, the beginning was even harder.
“It was very confusing. It was like ‘What cancer? I’m young. I’m starting my life’,” said senior DJ Williams. “People kind of look at cancer like the end. So I mean, of course it wasn’t, for me, I wasn’t like ‘Oh my gosh this is the end of the world.’ But it kind of was like, it definitely was life-changing.”
DJ is a fifth year senior at CCU, but that’s only because she took her freshman year off. That’s when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at just 18-years-old.
“I had DJ in my second year of college coaching,” said CCU women’s head basketball coach Jaida Williams, “and so, that was my first experience with that. It was probably the hardest thing that I had faced as a coach at that point. I was emotional. It made me grow stronger in my faith. Like ‘God, this young 17-year-old kid. You know, why?'”
“Physically it was challenging because I lost a lot of weight. Especially from coming out of high school and going to play college. The hair was fine. It’s just like a beauty standard,” said DJ, “but my fitness, it was kind of like ‘Oh my gosh!’ It felt like I was aging backwards or something.”
Cancer takes a toll physically, even to a D1 college athlete. But emotionally it’s entirely something more, for some, but not DJ.
“It’s funny because basketball is a mental game. You know it’s skill, but it’s 90% mental,” said DJ. “I think cancer’s kind of the same way it’s like, okay I can sit in this bed and can cry about it, or I can be thankful I woke up today and that there’s a tomorrow I can look forward to, if God says so.”
Like the fighter that DJ is, she destroyed cancer, just like she’s doing right now to the CCU record books. She’s ranked in the top 10 in nine different categories.
As of Friday, March 6, Williams ranks:
4th with 1,544 career points
2nd with 411 career assists
5th with 197 steals
9th with 658 career rebounds
6th with 1,217 field goals attempted
6th with 539 field goals made
4th with 15.1 career scoring average
2nd with 430 free-throws made
2nd with 602 free-throws attempted
Plus she’s scored these other impressive resume builders with more games to play:
73 career games with double-digit scoring
20 career double-double games
51 points scored in a game; most in CCU history
Recorded the 3rd triple-double in Coastal history
5 times Sun Belt Conference Player of the week (most recent 2/17/2020)
“I’ve told her since day one, and I’ve told her through the highs and lows, that God’s got something special for your life kid,” said coach Williams. “And I mean that. I feel it.”
“I’m so happy. I’m going to miss this so much,” said DJ. “Yeah, that’s the part I’m going to miss. It wasn’t easy.”
“The kid’s a champ, and I hope that Saturday we can make it official,” said coach Williams.
Saturday’s game at the HTC Center will be the last on campus for seniors on the team.
Coach Williams is asking everyone to come out and show their support because if they win, it will be the first regular season conference title for the Chanticleers.