“It was my friend’s eighth or ninth birthday party, went to a Caps game for his birthday,” Williams said. “Just kinda fell in love with it then, kinda got me hooked. I started playing the next year. And I’ve been at it ever since.”
During Williams’s first year of playing hockey when he was 9, he attended a goalie camp, put on by none other than Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn.
After playing for Waterloo and Sioux Falls in the USHL, Williams signed with Miami (Ohio) University. Korn coached at Miami for 30 years.
“It was funny for it to work out like that and go to Miami,” Williams said. “He’s a local legend there, a pretty big deal. He’s phenomenal at his job and respected in the hockey world. To have the opportunity to work with a guy like that who’s had so much success and coached so many great goalies is awesome. It’s a great experience. You just soak up everything you can and learn as much as you can from him.”
But as a free agent, Williams wasn’t sure what his future in hockey was going to hold. As Williams drove home from Oxford, Ohio, to McLean, his phone rang.
“I was all sad leaving all my buddies and Mitch called me and said ‘hey, would you like to come to camp?’ ” Williams said. “It made my sad, depressing drive home a little more exciting.”
Through the few days of developmental camp, Williams is trying to absorb everything in the moment, regardless of how tough it is.
“They’re keeping us busy,” Williams said. “Some really good skates, certainly tough, but you’re here to get better and push yourself. Just trying to soak it all in and enjoy every moment. It’s great experience.”
On Wednesday, Korn had the goalies go through drills, including those using a medicine ball and a goalie screen. Williams said using the medicine ball was difficult to get used to, but knew the importance of it.
“It’s awesome for working on your body control and making sure your upper body isn’t going all over the place and keep everything centered,” Williams said. “It certainly takes getting used to. It’s tough but it’s helpful.”
And the screen? Williams said that was tough too.
“That’s working on staying patient and reaction times and just getting over there as quickly as you can,” Williams said. “It’s tough when you can’t see the pass or see the shot but you got to just find a way and really compete and really battle and keep it out of the net.”
Once a boy in the stands cheering for the team, Williams is now a college graduate trying to make the team.
“You always dream of this,” Williams said. “Every little kid thinks they’ll get an opportunity like this. Just to see it, just the opportunity itself is awesome. It’s pretty special.”