A Chance to Cheer On Coach Williams

Diane Williams may not be a superhero, but she does have an alter ego. She balances teaching and coaching at Williston with her own athletic endeavors as a member of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby. Ms. Williams came to Williston from Smith College, where she coached volleyball and track and field. She has master’s degrees in exercise and sports studies (from Smith) and social justice education (from UMass Amherst). Now she is the head coach of the Williston volleyball team, coaches thirds squash and track and field, is a dorm parent in Memorial Hall, and teaches geography in the Middle School.

“The great thing about geography is it encompasses everything,” Ms. Williams says. “It’s interdisciplinary by nature.” Her seventh grade students are at an age where she believes they are really starting to pay attention to the world around them, so they are interested in and curious about the physical geography, history, and social issues of the regions they study. “They come into class already talking about the news,” she says. For example, in January, the class studied the human and physical impact of the Haitian earthquake of 2010. When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March, the class was able to draw on this experience to begin to understand the impact of this tragedy.

Ms. Williams describes her first year at Williston as “challenging, exciting, and really fun.” She enjoys the students and the faculty and staff, and appreciates the culture of support at the school. “I like the way people engage with each other and cheer each other on.”

Her colleagues and students will have the opportunity on Saturday, April 9, to cheer on Ms. Williams’ alter ego, Lady Hulk, when her roller derby team comes to Lossone Rink for their season-opening bout. Roller derby, a contact sport with roots in sports entertainment, is based on formation roller skating around an oval track by two teams. Points are scored when the designated scorer of a given team laps members of the opposing team. A member of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby since 2009, Ms. Williams says that derby is “worth checking out” for those who may not have heard of the sport. “It’s fun and unique. It’s very athletic, and is always a good show.”

Bout details: On Saturday, April 9, the Western Mass Destruction of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby will play the Sufferjets of the Ithaca League of Women Rollers with a halftime expo from the men of the Dirty Dozen. Tickets are $10 (kids $5) at the door. $8 advance tickets are available at Off the Map Tattoo, 112 Cottage Street, Easthampton. Lossone Rink opens at 5:00 and the game starts at 6:00 p.m.