Athletic Recognition Surprise


Candice with mom in uniform

 As part of their annual Athletic Recognition Night on Sunday, April 27th, Saint Francis High School was able help facilitate a special surprise for senior Candice Williams.  Angela Williams, Candice’s mother, is a Chief Warrant Officer in the US Army and had not been home since October.  She had just finished her tour of duty in Kuwait and she was granted special permission to leave her debriefing in Texas early to arrive back in Georgia to surprise her daughter, who was receiving an award from her Volleyball Coach, Aisha Kennedy.

The idea all started six days before the ceremony with an email from Chief Warrant Officer Williams to Coach Kennedy letting her know that she thought she would return home by the weekend. Candice was going to receive a Knight of the Round Table award, an annual award given to one athlete from each team that best exhibits the qualities of a great teammate, from the Volleyball team.  That gave Coach Kennedy an idea.

“I immediately thought how great it would be if Angela was there to see Candice receive her Knight of the Round table award,” said Coach Kennedy.  When Angela confirmed that she would be back in Georgia in time Coach Kennedy took the news to Chad McConnell, Saint Francis Athletic Director, and Colette Staak, High School Principal.

“We collectively came up with an awesome idea for how we could surprise Candice by having her mother present the award to her,” said Kennedy. “I knew it would be a huge surprise for Candice.”

“We knew we could hide Angela backstage where neither Candice nor any of her fellow students could see her,” Mr. McConnell stated.  “It worked perfectly.  As Candice walked on stage to receive her Knight of the Round Table award from Coach Kennedy, Angela stepped out with the award plaque, a stuffed animal and a huge smile to greet her daughter.”

Once the Saint Francis athletes and families realized what was happening, a heart-felt standing ovation that lasted several minutes began.  Candice’s younger sister, Nadia, rushed onto the stage to get a hug from mom as well.

As the applause died down Mrs. Staak stepped to the podium to thank Angela for her service and welcome her home.  Ms. Staak further explained that, “A very special thing about the Williams family is that Candice’s dad, Major Lawrence Williams served in Bagram, Afghanistan and returned home last March, in time for Candice’s mother Angela to return to active duty in Kuwait.  Throughout her parents’ commitment and duty to our country, Candice has been a positive role model for all of us.  This is an amazing family.  We thank Mr. and Mrs. Williams for their service to our country and welcome home Chief Warrant Officer Angela Williams.”

Of the surprise, Candice said, “The emotions that I felt were indescribable. I see this stuff in the movies or on TV, but I never thought it would happen to me. It was of feeling of joy that I’ve never felt before