Wilmington resident receives Coach of the Year honors from NC Special Olympics

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Last week, we met the family of the year for the Special Olympics North Carolina, a New Hanover County family.

Today, we meet the state Coach of the Year for the very same group and she’s also hails from Wilmington.

Billie Fitzsimons has been honored with the 2016 North Carolina Special Olympics Coach of the Year award.

But she recognizes that this award is about more than just her.

“First of all it’s an honor and the coach of the year goes to my other coaches also,” Fitzsimons said. “It tells me that what we’re doing is the right thing to be doing.

Fitzsimons has been coaching athletes in the Special Olympics as well as the Abilities Tennis program for eight years.

Seeing them succeed is what makes each day worth it.

“They all have some level of success,” Fitzsimons said. “It may not be the tennis that we’re used to seeing down at Empie, but each of them in their mind is playing tennis.”

Winning is normally the mark of a Coach of the Year candidate, but the growth of her athletes is what she truly enjoys.

“That’s the fun part of it, watching them grow,” Fitzsimons said. “They’re able to start off with very little ability and because they continue to come out, you can see their game improve, them getting more comfortable and walking with confidence.”

This program has seen many athletes come together under the watch of Fitzsimons.

For that, she knows that it’s more than just a game.

“It’s not just tennis; it’s kind of a whole rounded program for them.” Fitzsimons said.

In addition to the Coach of the Year honors, she will also be awarded the Marilyn Sherman Spirit award by the US Tennis Association Southern Section later this month in Atlanta.

Congratulations to Billie Fitzsimons on the honor of 2016 North Carolina Special Olympics Coach of the Year.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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