On a local level, Jason is known as “Willz,” and his roots run deep in Santa Cruz. Williams discovered his new home’s passionate embrace shortly after relocating from Golden, Colorado, with his family to the West Coast.
“I moved here in the 5th grade. We resided in the Columbia Street Apartments, and I vividly recall that first day when I hopped on my bike and pedaled down to The Lane. I had no idea what was happening (laughs), with all these people surfing and everyone simply hanging out and watching,” Williams reminisces about the immediate and profound change in his environment. “I sat there, realizing I had left behind the mountains I grew up loving for this vast ocean. It was a complete culture shock, but I loved it.”
It wasn’t until junior high that Willz took the plunge into the ocean to start surfing, a decision that presented potential social challenges due to his love for basketball.
“That was the thing. I was a jock playing basketball, but I also hung out with the surfers,” Williams explains. “Nobody was doing that. Surfers and jocks just didn’t get along, but I got along with both crowds without thinking much of it.”
Willz attributes that period to when he began to grasp the significance of appreciating diversity and nurturing his love for different cultures. Living on the lower Westside of Santa Cruz exposed him to various people and cultures.