Virginia's Williams Mourns Loss of Father


Daniel Williams, the father of Virginia star Zed Williams, died last Friday. Williams played in the Cavaliers' win over Richmond the next day, but missed Tuesday's win over Cleveland State. His status for Sunday's game against North Carolina is unclear.

Preseason-profile on Virginia's Zed Williams

Family is everything for Virginia attackman Zed Williams.

So when the soft-spoken senior’s father, Daniel, died Friday, it jolted the Cavaliers’ program in an unusual way.

“Most of us have never known someone like Zed Williams,” coach Lars Tiffany said. “He has a purity about him with who he is as a man. He’s the most honest, loving, giving man that many of us have ever met. It makes it all the more personal and all the more easy to grieve with him. We saw that it was easy to tell Zed was really hurting. The rest of us sort of grabbed onto his emotions and rallied around him and for him.”

Williams, a member of the Seneca Nation, played in Virginia’s victory over Richmond on Saturday but left for western New York immediately after the game.

One of the current Cavaliers’ parents offered the use of a private plane on Monday, allowing Tiffany, former Virginia coach Dom Starsia and current players Joe French and Jeff Kratky to visit the Williams family. In the Iroquois culture, visitation occurs at home.

Virginia defeated Cleveland State 20-7 on Tuesday in Williams’ absence, and French scored four goals with the letters “DW” scrawled on his right leg.

It is uncertain when Williams will return to Charlottesville. Tiffany said Thursday there is a family feast in Daniel Williams’ honor scheduled for Sunday. Virginia (7-4) is scheduled to play host to North Carolina that night at home.

“We recognize we will only see Zed when Zed and his family are done with the grieving process,” Tiffany said. “The burial process is not a quick one, and it’s going to take a longer period of time than the rest of us are accustomed to for the wake and funeral to be over.”

The Cavaliers have three games left in the regular season in addition to the ACC tournament. Virginia needs at least one victory and perhaps two over the next two weekends to reach the conference tournament and to keep its postseason hopes alive.

While the process-oriented Tiffany has tried to avoid discussing those implications, it’s simply a fact that Virginia has work to do to realize its NCAA tournament aspirations.

“We have a good number of men in their final year,” Tiffany said. “For them, this is it. They missed the tournament last year. They’re doing the math themselves and they realize we have to start winning some games. The pollsters can take into account how we lost four one-goal games, but the NCAA tournament committee doesn’t care. You lose by one or you lose by 20, you lost those games.”

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