‘Heart over height’: Nyra Williams doesn’t back down with VCU women’s basketball

Senior guard Nyra Williams has recorded 90 assists in her career. Photo by Megan Lee

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

Even though she is the smallest player on the court every night, senior guard Nyra Williams isn’t intimidated. Standing at 5 feet, 5 inches tall, she’s the shortest player in the Atlantic 10. 

“It’s heart over height,” Williams said. “I know I’m the smallest person on the court but I’m always going to try. Even if I get beat once, I’m going to keep coming back.”

In the Rams’ 53-50 win over Richmond on Jan. 17, Williams raced down the floor with less than 40 seconds on the clock, throwing her body in front of the ball and taking a charge to seal the win for the black and gold. 

That play personified Williams’ style of play on the court: quick and aggressive. 

“She’s willing to sacrifice her body to make a great play, and that’s what you hope to get out of your senior point guard,” coach Beth O’Boyle said of Williams. 

Throughout Williams’ career, teams have tried to exploit her height but the Hampton, Virginia, native’s work ethic has blocked that. 

“It’s always funny, teams try to post her up because of her size,” O’Boyle said. “She’s getting more steals in the post because she’s working so hard. I very rarely see teams take advantage of the size because of how hard Nyra works.”

Williams has been a consistent face in the black and gold’s lineup throughout her career in Richmond, appearing in 100 games and starting 85 of them. 

Williams has logged 93 assists this season, pushing her career total to 300. She has also recorded 38 steals and 127 for her career. 

“Point guard’s just always been in my blood,” Williams said. “I like having the ball in my hands and being a leader on the court.”

O’Boyle described Williams as a “true point guard” because she can facilitate the ball and get the Rams going into their offense.

“She wants to get her teammates good shots,” O’Boyle said. “She’s trying to run our transition, and she’s trying to do everything defensively to make good plays.” 

As one of three seniors on the roster, Williams is a leader the team can look up to.

“She is someone that’s going to go out there, work hard and be intense,” O’Boyle said. “I think that’s really contagious to her teammates.”

During drills at practice, Williams goes first and wants her teammates to learn from her mistakes. 

“I wouldn’t have my teammates do something I wouldn’t do,” Williams said. “Just kind of be first in everything so they can follow me. If I mess up, just make sure they don’t do the same mistakes.”

Off the court, Williams has provided laughter throughout her career. At a team dinner last season, she taught her teammates how to eat shellfish. 

“We did an all favorites dinner last season, and Nyra ordered shellfish as her favorite meal,” O’Boyle said. “I have never seen someone so little eat so many shellfish. It was hilarious, and she was teaching quite a few of our new players how to eat them properly.”

Williams and her work ethic’s time on the floor are limited and will be noticed when she graduates. 

“I imagine it’ll take a little bit of adjustment,” O’Boyle said about filling Williams’ role. “I’m sure there are a lot of A-10 teams that are happy she’s graduating.”

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