Triumph and Will: WSU Football Player Thrives In Pullman - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Triumph and Will: WSU Football Player Thrives In Pullman

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PULLMAN, Wash. -

When you watch red-shirt sophomore running back James “Boobie” Williams play football for Washington State University, you see a strong, dynamic, powerful athlete. His dedication to his sport has earned him a full ride scholarship to the school in Pullman, which means a free education and a chance to play football. However, the red-shirt sophomore is enjoying other perks that come with the scholarship at WSU, and it’s not what you might expect. James is enjoying the food.

Senior Executive Chef Raul Vera leads the cooking team at the Gray W Legends Lounge in Pullman, where WSU athletes eat their meals. He takes pride in feeding athletes, who he says fall into three categories; athletes who need to lose weight, athletes who need to maintain weight or athletes who need to gain weight. He says part of his role is teaching athletes how to eat and educating them on which foods help them physically and mentally. This is especially important for an athlete like James, who is eating three meals a day for the first time in his life.

Hard times for his family during his high school years forced James’ family to live in their car. He says he lived with his parents, his little brother and little sister in a Trailblazer for a year during high school, when the family moved from Toledo, Ohio to California. He remembers eating in soup kitchens and community centers. He remembers watching his mom cry and his dad swallow his pride so that his three children could eat.

When WSU Assistant Football Coach Jim Mastro went to recruit James, he noticed something was different. He says “home visits” never took place in the home, but rather at a school or a restaurant. Coach Mastro convinced James’ family to trust his promise of a chance to play football, a good education and everything that came along with it. He says he knew that once James was given a stable place to live in Pullman, 3 meals a day, and a solid foundation, that the athlete would thrive. And, that is just what the 21 year old has done.

This summer, James spent a few weeks at home where his family is living under better circumstances these days. His dad, James, is working as a personal trainer and his mom, Janece, is a massage therapist. Jame’s brother, Darnell is also a running back and will be a senior at Burbank High School. His sister, Mari, is fulfilling her dream as an actress and just stared in Tyler Perry’s animated movie “Madea’s Tough Love.” James is most proud of his family and credits his mom and dad for helping make his way to WSU.

James is training in Pullman and getting ready for his second season on the field with the Cougars. He’s improving his football game and hoping that the sport will continue to improve his quality of life and provide the things that he hasn’t always had.   

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