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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
For Peep Williams one word that scares her is the word average.

When the lacrosse star started looking at colleges she wasn’t looking to be average. She was looking for somewhere she could be special.

That’s why Williams will be playing lacrosse at Stanford next year, because it gives her the best chance to be special.

“I had a lot of chances to go somewhere where I could have gone and been average,” Williams said. “But, being average frightens me. I wanted to go somewhere I could be special. Stanford said they value me more than being an athlete. They said they are so glad I’m athlete because they got to see me, but they want me for the person I am and the brain I have and I am grateful for that.”

Williams, the daughter of two Division 1 athletes from Horseheads, is anything but average.

In her last game for Seton Catholic the senior scored 11 goals and three assists. That gave Williams 387 goals in her career, fifth all-time in state history.

Williams scored 35 goals in seventh grade, 45 in eighth grader, 80 as a freshman, and after there was no sophomore year due to Covid, she scored 127 goals as a junior and 100 goals this year.

Williams passed Cortney Fortunato of Northport for the fifth spot all time with those 11 goals on May 12.

The Seton senior also has the sixth most goals in a single season when she scored 127 last year, and she is tied for the most goals in a single game in state history when she scored 16 on May 10 of 2021.

Williams was a USA Lacrosse Academic All-American and was selected to play for the USA Lacrosse U18 National Team in Maryland where she had several goals for the United States in international competition.

Williams didn’t just excel in lacrosse. She was also the undefeated Section IV girls’ tennis singles champion this season.

“It’s awesome,” Williams said of being fifth all-time in goals. I’m very lucky to be able to go to Seton Catholic. I’m just excited to be able to be recognized for something like that. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, being able to have that recognition is very special.”

Williams is the daughter of two 1989 Horseheads graduates, Kevin Williams and Stephanie (Franco) Williams. Both went on to play Division 1 sports at Radford with Kevin playing soccer and Stephanie volleyball at the collegiate level.

For Peep Williams she’s been working at lacrosse for a long time, and the records are a result of that hard work.

“I have played club sports since I was a really little kid,” she said. “I have been playing travel lacrosse since sixth grade and always have been in the competitive scene. Not everybody gets to play varsity lacrosse in seventh grade. Just being able to make varsity in seventh grade and being able to play with my sister, who was a junior, we were able to set records together.

“I always wanted to play college lacrosse. I began playing for Monster Lacrosse out of Rochester and I started playing on that team in seventh grade. We became the number one club team in the country around ninth grade. With varsity and a top level club team got the sights set high. Stanford is a dream, but setting records was something that fell into my lap. Seton gave me a lot of opportunities kids don’t get elsewhere so I’m very lucky.”

It was Peep’s sister, Madeline, who held the goal-scoring record at Seton Catholic before her younger sister broke the mark as a junior.

“She is a senior at the United States Naval Academy,” Peep said. “She was a two-time Academic All-American in high school and had her own records at Seton. I had the luxury of beating them. She actually had the all-time record until I broke it.”

For Peep that was a special moment as her sister was there when she broke the record.

“It’s still a super exciting moment for me, and she was actually at the game,” Peep said. “She came home for the game I beat her record in.”

Both of Peep’s parents don’t always talk too much about their playing days in Division I sports, but Williams has been blessed to have a sister who is currently in college, and parents who support her through everything. While her sister doesn’t play sports in college, Peep still feels like she helped her through the college process.

“They (her parents) are always being so humble saying I never got to a level you were at,” Peep Williams said. “That may be true, but they are still Division I athletes. I don’t talk to them too much about it, where I got my best advice from is my sister. Regardless of if she’s an athlete or not at the Naval Academy, she has to be in shape, she has to be ready for anything. I think I get my best advice from her. A lot has changed since my parents were in college, and neither played lacrosse.

“I could have had the opportunity to go to the Naval Academy and play lacrosse, but that’s my sister’s thing and I wanted to make a name for myself and when California calls you can’t say no, I have to start my own journey. Both have helped me so much through my journey, just being there for me. My dad didn’t play lacrosse, but he could be my best feeder on the team now. He could be all-conference. He picked up a stick when I did and even though he can only use one hand, he is pretty good with that one hand.”

Peep Williams is closing in on 400 career goals, but she does sometimes wonder what could have been.

The all-time record for goals is 505 by Shannon Smith of West Babylon. Second all-time is 470 from Carthage’s Kate Ferris and the next two on the list are Shari Mason of Clarkstown North (443) and Shannon Gilroy of Northport (422).

Williams has scored at least 100 goals each of the past two years, and had 90 goals as a freshman, so she does wonder a bit what would have happened if she had played a sophomore season.

But, as much as she wonders, for Williams the records don’t matter. The harder part was missing a season of games with her teammates.

“I think about it all the time,” Williams said. “The women who are up there who are higher than me on the list are all amazing players who have gone on to do amazing things. Some are full-grown women now, the first place record, I think she’s a coach now (Smith is the Hofstra head coach and graduated Northwestern as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 254 goals). Just the fact that I’m able to be up there is a joy. Who knows what could have happened in that year that no one was able to play. But, God has his perfect timing. The fact that I’m up there is a joy and I just missed out on those games. The goals I couldn’t score wasn’t that big of a deal, but missing an entire year of games was tough. I’m happy with where I am.

“I am really lucky just being able to play for six years. Some kids don’t get that. I wasn’t that good in seventh grade, but I still had my 35 goals, or something like that. Some of those girls above me may not have played in seventh grade. Playing in seventh grade helped me peak at the right time as I got older. Being up there was great, but I definitely had more goals my junior year because this year every game I was face guarded or doubled. I did reach 100 goals last game. I’m so excited to keep playing in sectionals coming up. Moving up to the top five spot was a goal of mine. When my dad told me where I stood with the record I think I had three or four regular season games left and I had to average seven goals a game. I was a little nervous, what if I can’t reach that? I was fortunate enough to have some big time games, 9 here, 12 there, so that was really exciting.”

Williams is heading to a big-time college program. The Cardinals won the Pac-12 regular season and tournament title and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year.

While Williams knows that her commitment to Stanford is something that people may know about and her records are something that people may see, she does her best to make sure that she is focused only on playing for Seton Catholic and not showing off where she’ll be going to college.

“When it comes to the team dynamic and other teams toward me, I try and lay low,” Williams said. “I try not to wear too much Stanford gear before games. I try and rep Seton Catholic. I am die hard Saints. I’m not here to flex I’m going to Stanford. I’m excited for the next level, I think people respect me more now that I have committed. As I was traveling to Rochester, playing in top tournaments, that was all the underground stuff (that people didn’t see), so some people were like, she think’s she’s big time, scoring all these goals in high school, who knows if she is going to make the next level. But, now I’m committed to Stanford and I think people really respect that.

“Being top five, making it to the top level of goal (scorers) in a career is kind of validation I didn’t get as a little kid when I was working my butt off. I’m really grateful, yes I am trying to be a great ambassador for Stanford, but I’m still a Saint. This summer when I’m playing with other recruits, I’ll be able to rep Stanford. It was just drilled into my head, one step at a time. I play for Seton catholic. I am grateful for playing for the Saints and on the field I only care about the Saints and only care about my teammates. If other teams want to double me, or face guard me, I see it as an opportunity to get better.”

Playing at a smaller school Williams learned to be grateful for every opportunity.

She’s proud to be able to represent Seton Catholic and help put the lacrosse program at the school on the map.

“When we got the turf field two years ago it was amazing,” Williams said. “We used to play at the Binghamton soccer dome. We had to drive 20 minutes from Seton to Johnson City after school for practice when other schools get to walk out to a huge stadium. It’s something no one appreciates unless they don’t have it. Us getting the field has transformed the lacrosse and soccer programs so much. It’s great Seton Catholic pride. It’s the little things people take at other schools for granted. I was even out there this morning training and it’s gorgeous. I get to play with players, they don’t all play at club teams, they don’t player anywhere other than on that field. I get to help teach players. There are girls on varsity it will be their first year playing. Some people may see that as a disadvantage, I see that as an opportunity.

I think that’s so awesome that Seton Catholic is so small and don’t even get to recruit kids to play sports. It’s a joy to play in such a small, tight-knit community. Girls play lacrosse and are also great soccer and basketball players. Everyone has school pride. I got an opportunity to kind of put girls lacrosse in the spotlight at Seton. I used to not have a single classmate at games and now half the kids come out. I was so excited, it was the first game and so many kids came out and it was so nice and they were like you put on a show and we want to come to these games. We aren’t a hot bed. We aren’t Maryland, to be able to say, hey the sport deserves recognition, it’s not just me. Being able to go to Seton Catholic and have such a big impact on such a small school is special.”

In October of last year the NYSPHSAA started allowing high school athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

Peep Williams quickly showed she’ll fit right in at a school like Stanford that is full of entrepreneurs as she formed her own business.

“I actually own my own business for lacrosse, it’s called Peep Williams Enterprises LLC and I actually give young girls lacrosse lessons,” Peep Williams said. “I had a camp for girls fifth through 11th. It was Sunday’s and Tuesday’s and not only Seton Catholic, but all the schools around here. Thanks to the new NIL rules I was able to make some money off it. But, it’s not just making a profit, it’s seeing the girls love the sport that has opened every door for me. It’s been life changing. I will have more camps this summer, it’s just so exciting to maybe see a parent push a kid a little bit, or a kid find me on social media and DM me and say they want to learn from you. I talk to parents day one of the camp and talk about how girls lacrosse deserves more recognition around here.

“I’m just excited to see not only parents faces, but little girls faces light up when I get to teach them something that didn’t just make them better, it made me a better player to. To break down the sport and the things that were second nature to me and make a player better. I was training with my dad today on the field and the little boys lacrosse program was coming out after us, and this little girl whose brother is playing on the team said ‘hi Peep,’ and she was like I came to your game and I love watching you play. It literally lit my face up. Just me making some type of impact on the sport is exciting. To have that role in Binghamton is something that since the NIL rules came out I dreamed of starting. You can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it.”

There was a lot of work that went in with NIL to make sure that everything was being done correctly so it didn’t impact her at the high school or college level. One thing that helped Williams through the process was having a dad who is a lawyer.

“It’s actually been my dad and I, we worked on it for months,” she said. “Before we put it together I had to check with Section 4, with my college coach, with the college board of directors. I had to make sure to clean out my social media. You have to make sure you follow the rules. I made sure I created my own LLC. My dad is a lawyer and we wanted to make sure we made it a proper business. Stanford definitely likes me being entrepreneur at this age. I have to make sure I’m a good role model for kids off the field. It’s something I pride myself on, being a good human being off the field.”

For Williams everything has been amazing in high school, and next she will be onto the college level for the Cardinals.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “Seton Catholic is so small and it’s not like this is Ohio State with 50,000 kids, but Stanford with 7,000 undergraduates is a big change. If I’m going to go away from home I want to make it worthwhile and pick the best school I can. Even though I am going to be a college athlete I was not in the school just because of that. Girls in this recruiting class, and previous recruiting classes didn’t get in even though they were committed there.

“You have to be at your best, you just can’t rely on athleticism. You have to stay on top of your school work. You have to take hard classes and make sure you are perfect on social media. Stanford expects a lot out of you. It’s a plus you are an athlete, but people at Stanford all have a thing. There are people there who created a robot, I am going to be walking around with Olympians. Just because I made a name for myself in Binghamton, I have to do it at Stanford now. I picked the school and I am going to go there and try and leave being the best Peep I can be.”

After college Williams would love to be on ESPN. But, more than that, she wants to remembered as a good person.

“I do want to stay in sports,” Williams said of what she plans to do after college. “My dream is to be on ESPn, whether it’s being news broadcaster or a journalist, I definitely want to be on TV. I’m hoping going to Stanford will open up opportunities and I’ll get to do what I always dreamed off.

“I plan to interact with kids when I come home from college, or definitely this summer and should really create a stable name for me when I leave Binghamton. I want to be remembered for the good stuff. I think making an impact on people’s lives is something that is important to me. When you leave people are not going to remember what you said, or what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

For Williams, as she finishes up one of the most storied careers in New York State lacrosse history, her hope is that she’s made people feel good about her as a player, a teammate, and a human being.
IN TOP PHOTO: Seton Catholic’s Peep Williams, the daughter of two former Horseheads standout athletes. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES

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