Labor Day

Mansfield Lake Ridge Football Coach Leaves Legacy of Resilience

Coach Billy Smith was Defensive Coordinator for Lake Ridge High School. He died Wednesday after battling thyroid cancer for three years.

He was described as having "quiet strength" that helped shaped players beyond the field.

Head Football Coach Kirk Thor says practices and games won't be the same.

"It's a tough day you know you got for an hour or two and things are okay and then you see something that reminds you of Coach Smith and it's hard," said Thor.

Thor says Coach Smith was more than a colleague. They'd coached together for more than 20 years. He was family. He remembers the last conversation they had on Labor Day.

"He had a lot of peace. He was a man of strong faith. He believed in Jesus Christ and said he knew he was going to heaven and had no problem and had a lot of peace so that gives you hope."

Thor said, as Defensive Coordinator, Smith was a quiet and humble leader - and wanted his players to get the glory.

"But they also knew that he had strong principles and he had strong integrity and he wanted them to be great men, great husbands, great fathers," he said.

He says Smith set example of resilience by continuing to attend games and practices while going through chemotherapy, and that Smith's legacy will sustain the team through its loss.

"It wasn't a coaching career for him, it was a calling. And, so, because of that calling he made a huge difference in the lives of kids."

Smith leaves behind a wife and four children. He was 49-years-old.

Lake Ridge will play their first home game since the death of Coach Smith on Friday against South Grand Prairie.

Coach Thor says there will be a moment of silence at the end of the game.

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