PHILADELPHIA – Penn softball is prepping for 2013 on the heels its most successful season in program history. As the Quakers get ready to head to Florida in a couple of weeks for their first two tournaments, they added one final piece that will put them over the edge and into championship contention. 14-year-old Noni Williams signed an official agreement with the team on Feb. 8, and will wear the No. 5.
Williams came to Penn from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia through the Team Impact program. Team Impact partners with countless children’s hospitals across the country, and pairs children with life-threatening diseases together with different team-based support networks. Williams is suffering from kidney disease, and is currently in the process of finding potential donors. Recently, her older sister began the process of determining if she is a match for Noni.
A native of Philadelphia, Williams got a chance to see her new team practice at Penn Park. Following the drills, Williams circled up with her fellow Quakers, and head coach Leslie King described a new tradition her team has been taking part in – ever since Penn lost in last season’s Ivy League Championship Series, the Red and Blue have been chomping at the bit to get another shot at a title.
At the end of each practice, King takes out a piece of paper with a number on it. That number represents the days remaining until Penn begins Ivy play for the first time since the ILCS. King then picks a player for the privilege of tearing the paper up into shreds – on her first day with the team, Williams earned that honor. Additionally, she broke down the team following a three count after a tough, but successful, practice.
After practice, Noni and her family were led to the softball locker room. There she was given a locker strewn with decorations and balloons, as well as some Penn softball gear. Williams received a Penn softball bag, which had uniform pants, shirts, practice gear, sweats, and cleats inside. She was also given her very own softball batting helmet, which she put on and gave a thumbs up to her mother.
The last stop of the night for Williams was her official signing press conference. She sat down in front of the microphone, and signed her name onto the official agreement. Williams received her jersey – No. 5 – and hat, and then proceeded to take questions from the press. She exclaimed she is capable of doing a bit of everything for her new team, and that she can’t wait to contribute. Williams and her mother plan on attending every home game in 2013. The presser was followed by pizza, soda, and baked goods provided by the Penn softball team.