Williams brings Lady Toppers together with cooking

“I like creating something people like,” said junior Lindsay Williams of St. Charles, Ill., a middle hitter for the Lady Toppers, who frequently makes food for her teammates. “I like to make something people enjoy to eat.”

Emily Patton

While most refer to Lindsay Williams as a middle hitter for the WKU volleyball team, Williams’ teammates simply call her “the cook.”

The 6-foot-2-inch junior from St. Charles, Ill., often steps away from the net and right into the kitchen of her apartment to experiment with her mother’s recipes or to perfect her own special mostaccioli pasta dish.

Coming from a family with more than 12 aunts and uncles — and that’s just on her mother’s side — plus almost 50 cousins living around Chicago, Williams learned to cook at an early age.

“I love to cook. I love to find things to make. I love to eat what I make,” Williams said. “My dad’s mom is all delicate and fancy with her cooking, so I have those tendencies. My mom’s mom is a pinch of this, a handful of that, or whatever is around at the time. I like to think I kind of have a good balance from what I learned from them.”

But a lesson Williams could never grasp was how to cook for just one person.

“Everything I make is in monster sizes,” Williams said. “I don’t really know any other way to do it. It’s a joke with the team that I can basically feed an African village with the amount of food I make.”

And at least once a month, Williams holds an “African Village Night” — a nickname coined by herself and fellow Lady Toppers — where she pulls out the frying pans and recipes for the team and any others lucky enough to be invited.

When Williams gets her cooking urge, she sends out a mass text message, makes some calls or tells the team at the end of practice when dinner will be served.

Although the “African Village Nights” don’t happen every week, Williams can often be found cooking for her roommates, junior middle hitter Tiffany Elmore, senior defensive specialist Kelly Potts and senior outside hitter Emily Teegarden.

“Not only when I’m cooking for the team, but when we are all eating, it feels like we are bonding,” Williams said. “The girls are all so helpful wanting to chop up this, or stir this, or put this in there.

“It is good team bonding and just bonding with friends. After all, they are not just my teammates — they are my friends.”

Cooking and eating together is what Potts said helps make the Lady Toppers closer.

“Like (Sunday) night we were sitting around, and she was like, ‘Guys, I’m feeling mostaccioli. What do you guys think?’ And of course, we hopped on that bandwagon,” Potts said. “We all just hang out in the kitchen and talk to each other while Lindsay is at the stove.”

As the constant traveling of the season begins to wear on the team, both Potts and Elmore said the warm meals are a reminder of comfort after long weekends — perhaps one reason that WKU (13-4, 2-0) has won nine of its last 10 away games.

“It’s like being at home,” Elmore said. “It is always nice to have a home-cooked meal and to come home, and she will be the first to volunteer to cook, especially now that we are on the road so much.”

Williams’ cooking has made such an impact on the team that even Head Coach Travis Hudson jokes about her hobby.

Earlier this week, Hudson canceled practice and only met with the team briefly.

“After our meeting, he said, ‘You can go home and take the day off. Maybe Lindsay can even cook dinner,’” Elmore said. “All four of us from the apartment started laughing. We were like, ‘Well actually, she is.’”