When Andrew Williams of Chattanooga showed up at the Smyrna Golf Course to compete in the Special Olympics Tennessee Regional Golf Tournament, the last thing on his mind was how good he could shoot today, or even if he could win the competition.
“He was up there saying ‘do your best,'" Williams said, choosing his words carefully as he tried to gather himself, “Colton would have expected me to carry on how I have been doing.”
Colton was Andrew Williams’ best friend, as Williams said it, “since we met in the nursery at church,” and Williams was definitely missing him out on the golf course. It has been a little over a month since this happened, and Williams has been playing with that weight on his shoulder ever since.
That is why Williams shooting an 88 on the day was so impressive, and why he started showing a bit of a smile when talking about the score. The best news for Williams however, came to him a couple of weeks before he ever stepped foot in Smyrna.
Andrew Williams was nominated to be one of the members of Team USA that goes to Berlin, Germany for the 2023 Special Olympics World Games next June, and he said that was some of the best news he has received in a long time.
“I have actually never been overseas before, my dad has before because he was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany once,” said Williams. “I am still super excited. I was excited when they told me about it a couple of weeks ago, and the excitement hasn’t gone away one bit.”
Williams is set to join Halladay White in Berlin next summer with White competing in swimming and Williams competing in his favorite sport, golf. Williams would technically dispute that even though he says all sports are his favorite.
“My favorite sport is everything,” Williams said with a smile on his face. “I have competed in football, baseball, track, bocce and golf, and I really enjoyed them all.”
“Only reason I stick to golf is because I’m getting old,” he finished, as a chuckle started to escape Williams' sly smile.
Williams has been a part of Special Olympics Tennessee for a long time; 16 years in fact. He says he started while in high school in the Chattanooga area and has loved it ever since.
“The best part about Special Olympics to me now is hanging out with everybody,” Williams said confidently, “and having a good time with friends is what I love most about these tournaments.”
The best part about Special Olympics to me now is hanging out with everybody. Having a good time with friends is what I love most about these tournaments.
Williams said that to get ready for Berlin he’s already started walking extensively since his best friend passed, but that training is due to ramp up shortly.
The fact that Andrew was willing to speak despite everything going on in his personal life deserves to be commended. It’s never easy losing anyone you know, but when it’s your best friend that you’ve known for that long and who used to go out on the golf course with you, I still can’t fully grasp how he showed up at the golf course even though he told me how.
“I was thinking about not playing, but then I remembered Colton would start yelling at me to get to the course,” he said, this time with a smile behind those sunglasses. “My body was still aching from it; I’m surprised with how I did today considering it.”
With no more golf tournaments until the spring, Williams now turns his focus to preparing for Berlin and the World Games in the summer. With how excited he is to go, you can only expect that all his focus will be on training as well as he can to get ready.