Rowdies’ Williams finds balance on and off field

Wife's knowledge and support key for Tampa forward

JJ Williams, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Tampa Bay Rowdies JJ Williams practices with the team ahead their upcoming USL match against the Charleston Battery. With impressive footwork and unwaivering dedication, The Tampa forward. credits family for his success. (Grace Klodt/Toronto Observer) 

TAMPA, Fla. – JJ Williams, one of Tampa Bay Rowdies newest additions, takes pride in the life he has been able to build outside of the game.

Williams is both a husband and a father and attributes much of his success to the support of his wife, Hailey Poland, whom he met at the University of Kentucky. 

Williams is one of the lucky ones. Hailey was also a Division I athlete, a gymnast, and she understands how big of a commitment soccer is, as well as the highs and lows that come with being an elite level competitor. 

“It’s really good to have that support,” Williams says. “Just because, you know, she was a very high level athlete with what she was doing. She understands a lot of what I need, to make sure that I’m ready week in and week out… she helps me get away from it a little bit, because if not, I would be stuck in the soccer world 24/7.”

Although the club is eager for success and dedicated to discipline, head coach Neill Collins understands that his athletes are individuals who, at the end of the day, go home and lead a life separate from the sport and each other. 

“I think our job [as coaches] is just to constantly try and give these guys support, so they all feel that we’re doing our part,” Collins said. 

Williams, in an interview, spoke about his life outside of the game and put an emphasis on fatherhood and what that has meant to him.

“[Being a dad] just puts things into perspective. You know, I thought that for the longest time soccer was the most important thing in my life… [My son] reminds me that I am something else outside of football… [He brings] a new joy to life.” 

Williams also spoke about the comfort that came along with signing a longer contract with the Rowdies.

“It’s very comforting the fact that I signed here for two years. It gives me a little bit more stability and a sense of home rather than just signing one-off years. You know, it’s only a stepping stone. But hopefully this is a little bit more than that, hopefully, I can do well and put down some roots.”

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Posted: Mar 21 2023 8:38 pm
Filed under: Soccer Sports