Bryonna Williams, Fort Belvoir teenager, is making her mark with Mount Vernon High School’s varsity girls basketball team.

Bryonna Williams had never played basketball until she signed up to compete as an eighth grader in a Fort Belvoir CYS youth league.

Going to see the WNBA’s Washington Mystics with her family prompted Williams to consider the sport. Now she needed the right place. Fort Belvoir met the need.

“It was local and I wanted to start off small and gain some experience,” said Williams, who lives on Fort Belvoir with her father Buryea, an Army Staff Sgt., and her mother Aba, a veterinary tech on base. “When I played for that league, I gained a lot of experience and it motivated me to work harder and continue playing. I also enjoyed competing and training.”

Williams used that experience at Fort Belvoir to take advantage of any opportunity to help develop her game.

Mount Vernon head girls basketball coach India Thomas noticed immediately how passionate Williams was about basketball when Thomas held clinics at Walt Whitman Middle School.

“She expressed interest right away,” Thomas said.

Thomas offered Williams a chance to keep playing, but on a higher level. Impressed with Williams’ eagerness, Thomas encouraged Williams to keep working hard if she wanted to play in high school.

Williams took that advice to heart. As a freshman, she led the junior varsity

in scoring. Last season, her first on varsity, she came off the bench to offer quality minutes for a young team that won nine games.

This year, she will be counted on even more, since the Majors return all their players from a team that finished third in the Gunston District last season.

Practice began Dec. 7 as the pandemic pushed back the start of the 2020-21 high school sports calendar for Virginia public high schools.

Williams is looking forward to playing again with her teammates, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the season.

“I keep hoping for the best,” Williams said.

Williams is grateful she will get the chance to stay in the area and graduate from Mount Vernon.

Her time here has helped forge bonds with her teammates. She knows what to expect from Thomas, as well. And vice versa.

“She is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached,” Thomas said. “She has a great attitude.”

The biggest challenge Williams faces on the court is confidence. She understands what she’s supposed to do, but Williams often struggles to implement it in games. But Thomas sees improvement.

“She always wants to put in the work and put in the time to get better, Thomas said.