Chloe Williams may not love the spotlight, but the spotlight sure loves her


Jeremy Burnham

Chloe Williams poses with her family during Senior Day. Williams is one of four EWU players named to Big Sky Conference first-team, the most by any team in the conference | Jeremy Burnham for The Easterner

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

It has been a successful year for EWU soccer’s senior forward Chloe Williams. In April, she became the first in school history to participate in US Soccer’s under-23 training camp. Once school started, Williams broke the Big Sky Conference’s all-time scoring record and the BSC all time goal record. She also just picked up her third consecutive BSC offensive MVP.

But what had her nervous on Tuesday Oct. 24? Media availability day.

A television reporter was on campus to get an interview with Williams and Chad Bodnar, EWU head coach. Williams brought along her teammate, senior midfielder Aimie Inthoulay, for moral support.

“After four years of this, you would think you would be used to it by now,” said Bodnar jokingly.

Once the TV interview started, Williams was quick to deflect attention away from herself. When asked about her latest record, she complimented her teammates. Such behavior is not unusual for Williams. Her coach said she is always concerned about the good of the team before herself.

“She celebrates just as hard when her teammates score as when she does,” Bodnar said on Oct. 13, after Williams tied the goal record. “It’s a huge credit to her.”

Senior forward Chloe Williams takes a shot during EWU soccer’s home game against Southern Utah. Williams was named the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP for the third season in a row on Oct. 31 | The Easterner Archives

While attention is not her favorite thing, she has done a lot to deserve it over the past four years. Williams has been on the All-BSC First Team each season, and was the conference’s player of the year in her sophomore and junior seasons. Her love for soccer started much earlier than she started collecting accolades.

“I started playing soccer when I was five,” Williams said, “and since then it’s the only sport I’ve wanted to be a part of.”

Williams’ parents, Larry and Eileen Williams, remember encouraging her to try out some other sports.

“She always wanted to play soccer,” Eileen said. “Given the opportunity to play other sports, she always turned them down and said she wanted to play soccer… She just loves [it]. She always has.”

“I did softball for one year in first grade,” Williams said, “but that was it. Soccer has really been all I wanted to do.”

By the time she reached high school, Williams’ talent became evident. But her parents made sure she was always playing for the enjoyment of the game.

“It had to be for fun,” said Larry Williams. “There was never any goal to drive this to a college opportunity. We would check to see if she was enjoying it. She said yes, so she kept playing.”

Williams chose to go to school at EWU for the opportunity to play soccer, and the chance to stay close to home.

“In my junior year of high school, I decided to come to Eastern,” Williams said. “I knew I wanted to play soccer in college, and I had an opportunity to come to a program close to home. It’s a place where I knew I could meet my goals, both athletically and academically.”

Williams came to a EWU program in transition. The Eagles were coming off a 2013 season in which they finished 1-8 in BSC play. They had also just hired Bodnar as their new head coach. Bodnar and Williams brought improvement to the team immediately.

In the 2014 season, the Eagles finished 5-5 in BSC play. Williams had 16 points, and was one of only two freshmen to make the All-BSC First Team.

In her sophomore season, Williams emerged as a star for EWU, becoming the program’s first player to win a BSC offensive MVP award. She led the Eagles in goals, assists, and points. The team took a big leap forward, finishing with a BSC record of 6-2-2, while going 12-4-3 overall. They finished with the best record in program history, and made the BSC tournament. While they lost in the first round, the program had taken a big step in the right direction.

Williams led the 2016 Eagles back to the conference tournament, and picked up her second BSC MVP. This time, they won the tournament, and advanced to the school’s first NCAA national tournament. Williams also moved within striking distance of Idaho State’s Amanda Ellsworth for both the scoring and goal records.

Her strong performance in 2016 caught the attention of US Soccer. The program invited her to attend the under-23 training camp this Spring.

“It was a great experience,” Williams said. “It was something I wasn’t used to. The level of play was crazy. It was amazing. I was so happy to be able to be a part of that, and to see what it’s like playing at the next level.”

The 2017 Eagles finished 8-1-1 in BSC play, winning their first regular season championship since 2004. Williams broke the goal record at Idaho State, on Ellsworth’s former home field. Winning the regular season title also means they will host the conference championship.

They hosted the tournament last year, but only because the top seed, Idaho, did not have a field that met the conference’s standards. This year they earned it. The team now hopes to extend their season. Winning the BSC tournament would earn Williams and EWU another appearance at the NCAA tournament.

Andrew Watson for The Easterner

Bodnar is grateful for Williams’ contributions, both on and off the field.

“She’s been a special player for us for four years,” Bodnar said. “She’s created and scored a lot of goals for us. But Chloe is an even better person than she is a soccer player. We’re going to miss her when she’s done. She still has some playing to do though, and we hope to get her to another NCAA tournament.”

What’s next for Williams after she graduates?

“Nursing school,” said Williams. “I’m not sure where yet. I graduate in the Spring, and then I’ll go from there.”