Inspiring generations: Ashley Hunault Williams to be inducted into Alpena Sports Hall of Fame

Courtesy Photo Ashley Hunault Williams jumps for a long jump event during a meet at Alpena High School. The former Wildcat is one of four to be inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame at this year’s annual banquet.

ALPENA — Ashley Hunault Williams’ name is synonymous with excellence in track and field at Alpena High School. Her legacy includes several school records that still stand today, including the long jump (19 feet), high jump (five feet, five inches), 100-meter dash (12.2 seconds), and 200-meter dash (25.8). Over her four-year career, Hunault Williams earned numerous accolades, solidifying her place among Alpena’s athletic legends.

Hunault Williams, AHS Class of 2007, is one of four to be inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame at their annual banquet on Saturday.

As a four-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Alpena’s 2007 Female Athlete of the Year, Hunault Williams helped lead the Wildcats to Big North Conference championships in 2006 and 2007. She earned all-state honors three times and won four conference championships in the long jump, along with a regional title in the same event in 2007.

Hunault Williams emphasized the importance of her team’s collective effort.

“Conference championships are special individually and as a team,” she said. “But there’s just something about a team win that can’t be described. Seeing everyone come together for the collective goal, seeing everyone inspired and fighting together for one another, fighting for every point, cheering on every accomplishment — those memories inspire future generations.”

Hunault Williams continued her track career at Western Michigan University, where she earned All-American honors in 2008. She still holds the school’s indoor and outdoor records in the long jump and was a six-time Mid-American Conference champion. She also qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championship and was a member of the 2010 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division l All-Academic Track and Field Team.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame means a lot both personally and professionally,” Hunault Williams said. “The mentality needed to be successful in track has been the mentality that’s gotten me where I am today. Sports taught me hard work, perseverance, and deduction, but it taught me a lot more, too. It gave me a path that guided me to the future I get to live today. It’s how I met my husband and closest friends. It guided me to my profession. I am the assistant athletic director of academic affairs at Western Michigan University, where I get to impact the lives of generations of student-athletes who will pass that on in their own lives.”

Throughout her career, Hunault Williams always had strong support from her coaches and family.

“I can’t thank my coaches enough — Coaches Gebaur, Riffert, Bullis, Suszek, and Mr. Bennett. They helped guide me to my future and changed my life forever,” she said. “I owe my teammate, Julie Townsend, a special shoutout. Julie and I formed a genuine respect and friendship. She pushed me in every single event and every single practice in ways I hadn’t been pushed. I wouldn’t have been the same athlete or person without her.

“When I learned that athletes downstate went to indoor meets, I knew I had to find a way to do the same,” she continued “I did my research, found the meets, and my dad strapped my teammates’ pole vault pole to his truck and drove us hours each way to meets so I could compete indoors. Those sacrifices aren’t forgotten, and I will always appreciate the support they gave me.”

Hunault Williams’ journey both on and off the field hasn’t been without challenges, and a year ago, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

“The induction falls on the first anniversary of a major surgery where seven inches of my colon, the tumor, and 18 lymph nodes were removed,” she said. “It is what I call the ‘4×400′ mentality that helps guide me through such adversity — I may be scared, it’s going to be hard, but when I get to it I’m going to fight, give it my all, and be proud of myself when it’s done.”

Hunault Williams’ induction into the Hall of Fame is a testament to her resilience and deduction.

“(The induction) is a legacy I am honored to leave to my sons and I’m so grateful for that,” she said.

Ashley Hunault Williams’ story is one of triumph over adversity, a journey of perseverance, and an example of how sports can shape and guide a person’s life.

On Saturday, she will be officially recognized in the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame alongside Tony Skiba lll, Nathan Barden, and Eric Muszynski.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today