Wil­liams knows win­ning

Well-known Har­bour Grace ath­lete, vol­un­teer re­flects on her past suc­cess at NL Games

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

It’s been 30 years since So­nia Wil­liams of Har­bour Grace turned in a dom­i­nant per­for­mance at the 1982 New­found­land and Labrador Win­ter Games in Labrador City, cap­tur­ing four gold medals and a sil­ver in speed skat­ing.

Among the 750 com­peti­tors in at­ten­dance, only one other ath­lete could match her suc­cess on the podium.

“It was cer­tainly a great ac­com­plish­ment,” Wil­liams told The Com­pass last week dur­ing a nos­tal­gic “skate” down mem­ory lane, just days be­fore the 2012 Sum­mer Games were set to kick off in her back­yard.

Wil­liams has a long his­tory of sport­ing ac­com­plish­ments, hav­ing rep­re­sented the prov­ince at no less than four na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, all in dif­fer­ent sports — ice hockey, soft­ball, speed skat­ing and curl­ing.

“If there was a sport to play, I was play­ing it,” said Wil­liams, who works with Moore’s Am­bu­lance Ser­vice and is a key mem­ber of the his­toric Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade.

Wil­liams said ath­let­ics is a tradition in her fam­ily. She has been in­volved with the Har­bour Grace Re­gatta for the last 30 years and fig­ures she might have missed a sin­gle race in that time.

Her medals and cus­tom­ized speed skates from the ’82 Games are on dis­play in the Har­bour Grace Sports Hall of Fame, lo­cated in the up­per level of the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium.

Fe­male hockey was al­most un­heard of in those days, but that didn’t stop Wil­liams from tak­ing to the ice. She honed her rac­ing form on home ice be­fore tak­ing the Games by storm.

“We were well-pre­pared,” she said, re­mem­ber­ing the cu­ri­ous looks she had her team­mates at­tracted dur­ing dry-land train­ing ses­sions in the the sum­mer month.

“Peo­ple kind of laughed be­cause we were pre­par­ing for a win­ter sport in the sum­mer.”

Car­ry­ing the torch

Now, three decades re­moved from her suc­cess­ful run at the NL Win­ter Games, Wil­liams was to play a small part last week in the kick-off to the

“It’s in my home­town and it’s nice to be rec­og­nized for your ac­com­plish­ments.”

— So­nia Wil­liams

2012 sum­mer sport­ing ex­trav­a­ganza, which is be­ing co-hosted by Car­bon­ear and Har­bour Grace this week.

Wil­liams was sched­uled to be a part of the Sum­mer Games torch re­lay on Fri­day, Aug. 17, and is also one of the 500-plus vol­un­teers who will help en­sure the games run smoothly.

The last time the games were held in this re­gion, Wil­liams was coach for the host girls’ soft­ball team.

“It’s an hon­our for sure,” Wil­liams said of the op­por­tu­nity to carry the torch. “It’s in my home­town and it’s nice to be rec­og­nized for your ac­com­plish­ments.

“I’m go­ing to take my time and let the chil­dren en­joy it.”

The tradition of car­ry­ing the torch for the lighting of any sport­ing event has long been re­served for per­sons who have achieved a cer­tain level of recog­ni­tion in sports or oth­er­wise, and Wil­liams cer­tainly fits the bill.

To go along with her ex­ploits in sports, Wil­liams is a vol­un­teer fire­fighter with her home­town Bri­gade, serv­ing as chief from 2005-2011. She made his­tory as the first fe­male vol­un­teer in the long and sto­ried his­tory of the bri­gade, and is also thought to be the first fe­male fire chief in the his­tory of the prov­ince.

“I took great pride in that po­si­tion, and re­spect the very long his­tory of the bri­gade,” Wil­liams told The Com­pass in 2011. “Be­ing chief was a very en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In 2008, she also re­ceived the Mayor’s Award of Recog­ni­tion, an award de­signed to hon­our out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the Town of Har­bour Grace.

Wil­liams is not the type to seek the spot­light, but ap­pre­ci­ates be­ing rec­og­nized for her ef­forts.

“It’s nice to cer­tainly give back as much as you’ve re­ceived,” she said.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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