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Local youth coach has given his time to our kids. Now, federal employees can give their time to him.
Coach Billy Greer runs drills with a young player's help before a game in spring 2005.
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By RICHARD AMRHINE
Billy, who is a gentle bear of a man, started coaching when he was 16 for his nephew's T-ball team. He's coached in a volunteer role every year since, and in recent years has organized travel baseball teams for his son. He also held a paid position as a girls' basketball coach at Fredericksburg Academy from 2003 to 2005.
Back in the early spring, Coach Billy invited my son and several other boys to join him for some evening basketball practices at Battlefield Elementary. Who wouldn't welcome another opportunity to learn from Coach Billy? As each practice ended he would schedule another, and another.
Of course Coach Billy's son was always on hand with his "A-game," but it's clear that Billy lives for this stuff, and coaches for the sheer joy of it.
Just for fun a few years ago, he founded a summer weekend basketball camp in his Kingswood subdivision in Spotsylvania County. With some volunteer help and a nominal fee to cover expenses, the camp grew to include 50 kids this past August.
It was around that time that Coach Billy needed to have the pain in his hip checked out. We heard that it wasn't a pulled muscle, or some other sports-related injury. It was osteosarcoma, a cancer that develops in bone tissue--in this case in Billy's hip and pelvis--and almost always in kids rather than adults.
He has undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore--including one on Thanksgiving Day--and was scheduled to have surgery to remove the tumor this past Friday. The pain and sickness he's endured from complications and side effects are more than most of us could imagine.
As incredibly difficult as this time must be, Billy's wife, Jennifer, has kept the information flowing through an online service called CarePages (carepages.com). She remains upbeat and expresses their confidence that Billy will be up and around soon. And there's always an emphasis on giving thanks to those who have helped out, or simply offered their thoughts and prayers.
She reported recently that they returned home from an elongated stay in Baltimore to discover that neighbors and family members had decorated their home for Christmas, inside and out.