CATAWISSA RR — Michaela Williams may only be 10-years-old, but when it comes to playing the violin in front of large crowds at Southern Columbia sporting events, she’s already an old pro.
The fourth-grade student has been making a splash throughout the school year with her rendition of the national anthem since she first stepped onto Tiger Stadium’s 50-yard line on Sept. 15.
Head football official Joe Cesari was so impressed he wrote a letter to the editor after the performance stating, “I have been in organized high school and college athletics for 55-plus years. I witnessed one of the best performances of our national anthem that evening.”
Since that night, Michaela has wowed Tiger fans and competitors alike at soccer, wrestling and basketball games, having performed eight times this school year.
Michaela’s love for the violin came at the age of 2 1/2, she said, sparked by a show called “Jack’s Big Music Show” where she heard them talk about the instrument.
Her parents, Mike and Michele Williams, were supportive when she began showing an interest and encouraged her to pursue it. They sought out music teachers to help her, and while music programs are introduced at Southern from kindergarten through fourth grade, she continues private lessons as they don’t provide string lessons in the elementary school.
The opportunity to play the national anthem came when her dad, a middle school teacher at Southern, asked high school principal Jim Becker if Michaela could perform at a football game. Becker supported the idea and had Mike Williams speak with the band director, who set it up for Sept. 15.
Mike said, “I didn’t know it at the time, but it ended up being the night when coach Roth won his 400th win.”
Michaela said she was nervous looking at the packed stadium, but was happy to see she received a standing ovation after her performance.
When asked how she feels to continue being asked to play before sporting events, she said, “I feel proud.”
Her talent comes naturally — and according to Mike, comes from her mother — but Michaela knows practice makes perfect, so she said she sets aside 45 minutes a day to practice the violin.
“Sometimes if I really like what I’m practicing, I practice more,” she said, noting her favorite piece to play is “Two Grenadiers.”
As if she wasn’t busy enough, Michaela is testing out another side of her musical talent playing Mother Goose in the district’s production of “Shrek the Musical” at 7 p.m. March 16, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 17, and 2 p.m. March 18.
She doesn’t have any speaking parts, but she said she dances a lot and is having a blast at rehearsals. She said acting and playing violin are both so different, and she likes them both equally.
On April 7, Michaela will play a violin duet with Southern Columbia ninth-grader Chase Petro in front of a large crowd at a Mahaney Brothers concert in Mount Carmel. Months after her first performance, Cesari, the organizer of the event which benefits veterans, remained so impressed by her she requested she be a part of the show.
Between sporting events, recitals and the musical, Michaela is ready to tackle any stage with her talent and always happy to play.
“I’m excited when I do it, and I’m also nervous at the same time, but mostly proud and excited that I’m doing it because I know at the end I’m always going to get a standing ovation,” she exclaimed.