Taking charge in the classroom and on the court has been second nature for Rodney Williams since the Virginia native arrived at Drexel.
The entrepreneurship major has earned several academic honors at the team and conference levels during his two-plus years at the school.
“I think it just goes along with how I was raised,” said Williams, whose father is a retired army major and a pastor. “I come from a military home so it was like I had to do what I had to do. Grades were stressed a lot in my household, so I just carried that over to Drexel and I have been able to succeed during my time here.”
Has he ever. Among his accolades were being named a 2014-15 Colonial Athletic Association commissioner's academic winner and was the Dragons’ spirit and dedication award winner.
Things are not too shabby in the court, either. Though currently slowed by an ankle injury, Williams is averaging 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds through Drexel’s first eight games. His 7.0 boards led the team a season ago.
It all adds up to Williams being an ideal teammate who contributes well beyond the box score. If a teammate is down the 6-7 junior forward is sure to be there as a sounding board while offering a shoulder to lean on.
“You are not going to be around a better person than Rodney, forget all the basketball stuff,” said Drexel coach Bruiser Flint. “He is one of the guys everybody on the team will keep in touch with when they all leave here because he is such a great person. He will spend time with you if he thinks you are struggling. He is very good at that.”
Much of that personality characteristic comes from the spiritual part of Williams’ upbringing. With his father being a pastor going to church was part of the routine.
“I try to lead by example, but I am the type of person that cares about people,” he said. “If I see guys struggling or in a certain mood I try to do my best to reach out to them and see what they need, and maybe even motivate them to do a certain thing. I was raised in the church and that kind of goes along with that and lot of guys on the team look up to me in certain ways.”
Williams’ entrepreneurial spirit and love for helping others intersect in the form of a mental health counseling service operated by him and his two older sisters in Virginia. His father owns a couple of group homes and the idea of running a business ultimately trickled down to the siblings.
Though Williams is well occupied with his responsibilities at Drexel and has little time to help with family business affairs, the service is another example of how he desires to extend a helping hand.
“I see myself as a people person, someone that people like being around,” said Williams, who likes to break away from hoops and schoolwork by returning to his apartment to play the drums. “I enjoy helping people, helping them in any way I can.”
If he could Williams would like to help mend the nation’s economic woes. At a time when seemingly 75 presidential candidates are squawking, er debating, back and forth while attempting to outslug each other on how to, among other issues, fix the nation’s economy, Williams would be all for opening the coffers to smaller businesses.
“I would try to find a way to strengthen smaller family-owned businesses rather than all the money being distributed within big corporations,” he said. “If I could find a way to push money into those businesses and create jobs that would be nice.”
How about Rodney Williams for president?
He would likely get Flint’s vote.
“He understands what he is here for and that he is not here to just play ball,” said the coach, in his 15th season at Drexel. “I do not think there are any boundaries for Rodney in life.”
On the cover: Rodney Williams of Drexel practices his beliefs for service by operating a mental health counseling service with his sisters when he can. (Courtesy Greg Carroccio/Drexel Athletics)
YouTube video courtesy of Drexel Athletics