In Remembrance of our Hero

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In Remembrance of our Hero

Coach Billy Smith was a beloved coach and teacher at Lake Ridge.

Coach Billy Smith was a beloved coach and teacher at Lake Ridge.

Lake Ridge Media

Coach Billy Smith was a beloved coach and teacher at Lake Ridge.

Lake Ridge Media

Lake Ridge Media

Coach Billy Smith was a beloved coach and teacher at Lake Ridge.

Margo Eugenio, ENN Staff

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A mentor. A father. A husband. A coach. Billy Smith was many things, never limited by a single label. He brought a positive light and happiness anywhere he walked, touching the hearts of everyone he came into contact with. On September 18th, faculty at Lake Ridge learned of Billy Smith’s passing after a long battle with cancer. On September 19th, Principal Brandon Johnson announced the devastating news to the school.

Through his position as coach, Smith was able to not only touch the lives of his players, but also touch the lives of his colleagues. Head Football Coach and Campus Athletic Coordinator, Kirk Thor, remembers Smith as a man of courage and having a heart filled with compassion.

“Coach Smith was an outstanding coach who made a positive impact in the lives of the kids he coached, and the people he worked with. He was a man of strong character, quiet strength, a humble heart, and rock-solid faith,” said Thor.

George Olsen
Coach Smith poses with a few of his players after a playoff victory.

From coaching and calling plays on the field, to coaching his students and athletes in the game of life, Smith never missed an opportunity to help his students. Senior, Jaxon Lyness, remembers him as a humble hearted man who always put others first and refused to give up.

“As a person, he was the kindest, most selfless person. He was always trying to make the players be in the spotlight rather than him. He was always the most important person, but he would make you feel like you were. Most importantly, he was a fighter. He fought his guts out and tried to be here when he could be. He was a friend and a hero,” Lyness said.

Smith was greatly respected and widely appreciated by his players and colleagues. While she might not have had him as a coach or teacher, junior and Varsity Football trainer, Zaria Martin, respected him and thought of him as a talented coach.

“I saw how he coached, he was great. He was really invested in his team,” Martin said.

Thor and Smith were more than just co-workers however. The pair were also close off the football field, being friends for over 20 years. Thor recalls his favorite memory with his late friend.

“My favorite memory is when the football team surprised him last spring on his first day back after undergoing cancer surgery at MDA. They yelled and cheered louder than I’ve ever heard. It was a great moment for all of us,” Thor said.

Kendall Aguillard
Students sign a banner honoring Coach Smith.

Smith’s infectious smile and friendly personality made it quite easy for him to make friends. Spanish teacher, Ivonne Want, remembers him as a man of great advice and calming demeanor.

“He was always a very peaceful person, a very calm person. Even when you were stressed out for whatever reason, he would always find a way to calm you down. It was always that smile, it just made you feel better,” said Want.

Smith’s influence reaches far beyond Mansfield city limit lines. Former Lake Ridge Football players sent their condolences via Twitter, like Bryson Jackson, one of Smith’s former players, who took to the platform to express his shock after hearing the tragic news.

“This hurts, a great man, father, coach, and leader. You will forever live in our memories and hearts! Rest in Peace Coach Smith,” Jackson tweeted out.

Much like his former teammate, Blake Lodes, also tweeted his thoughts on the shocking loss.

“Not just a coach, not just a teacher, but a great, Godly man who loved and cared for everyone he came in touch with,” tweeted Lodes.

Smith was always providing comfort to those he came in contact with. Want remembers him as not simply a fellow teacher, but a counselor and friend.

“He would always make you think like, ‘Hey, everything has a purpose and everything has a reason,’ and that is what I remember and admire most about him,” said Want.

Courtesy of Timberview High School
Students and Faculty at Timberview High School wear green to honor Coach Smith.

While the community was forced to say goodbye too soon to Smith, his legacy will live on through the hearts he touched and the countless lives he made a difference in.

“Coach Smith’s legacy lives on because of the lives he impacted while coaching. He made an impact on so many students, student-athletes, and generations of students,” said Thor.

Lake Ridge, along with other schools in the district, have rallied together to try and make it through this difficult time. Timberview High School, a rival on the field, dedicated their spirit day to Coach Smith by asking all their students and faculty to wear green in his honor.

While many hearts might be broken, it is important to also remember the hope Coach Smith left us with. As poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is not the length of life, but the depth of life.”

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