We had the good fortune of connecting with Elona Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elona, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Over time, my work-life balance has been centered around my academics and athleticism. This is still true today. I was not allowed to work in high school; I was made to focus on school and sports…so that’s what I did, that’s what I know. I definitely do not come from money, so I basically went to college without any savings. I started working my first job of many when I was 18, as my financial struggle continued. Financial aid did not cover everything and I was introduced to stress of debt and balancing the cost of living. I have always balanced many things, but balancing work, rugby, leadership, and classes was as difficult then, as it is now. Currently, I am months away from graduating with my Masters and the struggle continues. Many people want me to balance being an Athlete, a Student-Teacher, a Coach in training, an entertainer, a mentor, friend, and family member and my schedule is tight! Many people do not realize how exhausting it has been to be in a 1-year Masters and teaching credentialing program and unable to have a job in the process. I have had to turn down many requests of my time and essentially volunteer services to focus on my own mental health, goals, and financial security. Learning how to say No has been huge for me and I am happiest I have been in a long time. As my schedule may open up after graduation, I am looking forward to continue serving my community in South-Central, becoming a full-time teacher, playing rugby more to achieve personal goals, and learning more about coaching for the Future when I retire as an athlete…I think the balance comes from not overwhelming myself with an agenda that does not leave me any personal time or time for my loved ones. I am enjoying being able to do things in my own timing and according to God’s plan. During this pandemic I have been stressed but blessed! I have become frustrated in trying to advocate for Black Lives, against minority abuse, against LGBTQ discrimination, and for womxn’s equal treatment in sports. I want people to put forth actual policy change and hold people accountable for things that happen to women, not just have my face posted everywhere so people can talk about “equal opportunity”. I have been blessed to take a step back and focus on becoming the best version of myself in order to truly represent and stand for everything I believe in, without being deterred my any bs equity detours or photo opps! Balance is key!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I honestly did not know what my career would be, going into college. I was undeclared until I settled for following my passion with Sociology and African-American studies. All I knew was that I was trying to make it as a rugby player. After undergrad, I was offered a scholarship to a chiropractic college, but Soon realized that it wasn’t the career path for me and that I was unhappy in my studies. That is when I thought, perhaps I should be an Athletic Counselor…With everything I was dealing with in the rugby atmosphere, I was inspired to help athletes who are struggling with the mental aspect of being an athlete in high demand. However, rugby had taken over my life and I was so focused on keeping my finances afloat and could not find a graduate program that suited me in terms of timing, location, or finances. I was so depressed! I did not feel as though I had purpose, just being an athlete that many people were watching. I needed more than that….Finally, after a 1 and a half long season, I reached back to my ICEF Rugby family for internship opportunities. Long story short, one opportunity fell through as another door opened. I visited home for 2 short days and was presented with the chance to enter into my current Masters program in hopes of becoming an Alumni teacher. When I tell you God answers prayers….I was so Lost and low but I had to press forward! I realized how many women in my family are educators and through every struggle, I am proud to say that I found my purpose. Soon, I will not just be an athlete that people love or love to hate…I will also be a 9th grade English teacher and able to continue giving back and doing what I love! This journey has not been easy and it is not over! I have overcome challenges in being a Black, bisexual, beautiful, Beast of a FeMale athlete, financial hardships, emotional/mental/physical/sexual/spiritual abuse, drama in love, and growing pains but I refuse to quit! The biggest lesson I have learned is how to say no and set boundaries with people who become entitled to my time, energy, and/or effort. I have to do what’s best for me, my loved ones, and my community, period! I want the world to know that Jealousy and Hate are wasted emotions! You cannot be made at others for doing what they love and what God has planned for them…Focus on Yourself and personal growth and you can accomplish so much more Good on this Earth!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The most exciting places to check out are all food and beach related for me. You have to check out Hermosa, Huntington, Dockweiler, Venice, Santa Monica, and Marina beaches! Restaurants, check out HoneyMee, P.F. Changs (the Pike in Long Beach), street taco stands in the hood, Del Fresco (Westfield Mall), Alta with chef Keith, Ackee Bamboo in Leimert Park, the Boiling Point for ramen, Crab Shack, and more! I think Museums and hiking trails are dope too; try it all!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to 100% shoutout the Inner City Education Foundation. ICEF rugby and public schools have believed in my abilities and potential since Day 1! I went to school there K-12, started my rugby career, traveled the world, received scholarship, support and so much more to keep going and fulfill my purpose. Being recruited to come back and teach as an alumni next year has stretched me and I have grown so much thus far; this is family! They know that it truly takes a village! Also have to shoutout the ROOTS Rugby Family for Really being about advocacy, education, activism, community service, and equity (and long before the Pandemics hit)! Much love, much love.