Meet The Team: Defender Rhys Williams

This is part of our series where we reach out to Lansing Ignite players and coaches in an effort to get to know them before the season starts. Today we talk to defender Rhys Williams. Rhys played for Columbia University, and was signed to USL’s Real Monarchs last year.

Westen Shelton: What position do you play, and how would you describe the way you play? What do you think The Assembly Line will enjoy most about the way you play?

Rhys Williams: I play right fullback, and I love to get forward into the attack by combining with teammates down the flank or overlapping the winger. I think I have a good balance between maintaining my defensive responsibilities and adding to the attack. I think The Assembly Line will enjoy me stepping high up the pitch to ultimately provide service into the box and create chances to score goals.


WS: Can you tell me a little about how you got into the sport, and what you love about it?

RW: I have been playing soccer since I was four years old. It has been my passion ever since I started, and I am extremely grateful to be able to make a career out of it. Throughout the years, soccer has opened so many doors for me. More importantly, I have met so many great people from playing. From players to fans to families in the communities, I have been fortunate to cultivate some amazing relationships.


WS: I noticed you graduated with a degree in economics. I just finished reading Soccernomics, so I’m curious if your educational background influences the way you approach or think about soccer at all?

RW: My educational background has definitely influenced the way I think about soccer at an institutional level. I learned a lot about how soccer operates as both a business and a game. For example, I took a Sports Economics class with the former president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, where we studied how MLS started and grew over the years to become the league it is today. In studying many different teams in different leagues across the world and reading books, including Soccernomics, I gained insight on different perspectives other than just a soccer player’s. This has given me deeper appreciation for what happens beyond the white lines and how the soccer industry itself runs.

Photo Credit: Columbia University

WS: Have you been able to talk to Nate much about the style you guys will play at all? I’m curious if you have much experience playing with 3 on the back line, something he has done before when he coached Lansing United.

RW: Coach and I have had some great talks about the style we will play, and I believe I will fit right in. I have played with three on the back line with wing backs pushed high up the pitch. Positionally, I have played as a right wing back as well as a right center back in this formation. This style will also allow us to press high up the pitch and that is something I am very familiar with. It was a style that was emphasized last year with Real Monarchs and in my time with the New York Red Bulls U23 as well.


WS: What was your favorite moment you ever had on a soccer field?

RW: My favorite moment I’ve ever had on a soccer field was when I was nine years old, and we were playing in the championship game of a tournament in Atlanta. The game was tied 1-1, and we were in the second half of overtime. We had all of our families there and some teams from the tournament that got knocked out. Even the referee we invited from our semifinal game came to watch. With only a few minutes left, I scored what ended up being the winning goal. Our parents rushed the field thinking it was golden goal and the game was over. Two minutes later, it was. We had won our first trophy.


WS: What hobbies do you have when you aren’t playing soccer?

RW: When I am not playing soccer, I like to learn new skills. I am currently trying to teach myself how to play the guitar. I also have been teaching myself software development and how to code in multiple languages.


WS: What personal goals do you have for yourself this year? What are you hoping to work on and develop to make it to the next level?

RW: Personally, I have been focusing on really improving the technical component of my game. In my first year as a professional, I realized how much faster the game is compared to the collegiate level, and I am looking to progress on my development from last year. I am also looking forward to getting more games under my belt this year, making an impact on the team’s success, and strive to reach the highest level I can.


Previous “Meet The Team” Interviews…

MEET THE TEAM: ASSISTANT COACH JOEL DELASS

MEET THE TEAM: GOALKEEPER COACH WAEL ZENGA

MEET THE TEAM: ASSISTANT COACH TIM DANIELS

MEET THE TEAM: MIDFIELDER STEEVE SAINT-DUC

MEET THE TEAM: MIDFIELDER KYLE CARR

MEET THE TEAM: MIDFIELDER RAFA MENTZINGEN

MEET THE TEAM: MIDFIELDER XAVIER GOMEZ

MEET THE TEAM: MIDFIELDER CHRISTIAN SILVA

MEET THE TEAM: HEAD COACH NATE MILLER


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