As Gabby Billiot heads to Murfreesboro this week, she will be taking with her a person who has had a major impact on her not only on the track, but in her life as well.
Ron Billiot is Gabbys father who has served as an assistant coach this season helping with the throwers. Billiot has had a major impact on Sam Tester and Amanda Hipshire on the track, but her relationship with Gabby goes even further.
Ron is an Army veteran who had to leave her as a sophomore to go to Iraq.
Now back from Iraq, hes had the chance to coach Gabby to the state meet.
JCHS head coach Matt Bray has been very touched by the relationship between Gabby and Ron.
Ron Billiot first came to my attention when he came home from Iraq and he gave Gabby a couple of pointers and he asked if he could help and at first he said he was going to school and that he would help as much as he can and he ended up being an assistant coach. He did wonders for our throwing program and improved Gabbys performance tremendously as well as Sam Tester and Amanda Hipshire. Hes been a real asset to our program. Im going to miss him, Bray said.
Billiots dedication to his daughter was unmatched and this allowed Billiot to improve by leaps and bounds this year.
If it wasnt for Rons dedication, I dont think Gabby would have had as good of a chance to make it as far as she has, Bray said.
The military experience Ron has had allowed the track team to become more disciplined, something Bray is really high on.
We try to run the program in a classy way but also with discipline, he said. I feel like hes helped in that area and the kids really enjoy him and hes a lot of fun to be around. If it hadnt been for him Gabby wouldnt have performed like she has and I cant take the credit for that.
With the Billiots being a military family, there were times were Gabby was without her father.
This allowed her to have a greater appreciation for him when he did come back. Being a track athlete himself, Billiot was able to help Gabby in a way no other person could.
Its funny to watch them work together because it is a father-daughter team, Bray said. I think she throws her best when hes there giving her assistance. Sometimes it may make her nervous because she wants to do well for her dad. I know when he was gone from Iraq it was like a little part of her was missing and since hes come back its brightened her up and made her complete.
Bray says hes a better person because he knew Ron Billiot.
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