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Big Day For Billy At LC
LOUISBURG -- Billy Godwin took a 35-mile trip down Memory Lane last Saturday.

During his six-year stint as the Louisburg College baseball coach, Godwin would depart his Nash County home every morning in his trusty-but-rickety Datsun pickup truck.

It was a time Godwin always relished, as he would often ponder the responsibilities of life as the aging pickup would take him through Castalia, and then on to SR 56 through Edward Best -- and eventually to Louisburg.

For old-school sake, Godwin headed back to Franklin County last Saturday -- though his SUV ride was a bit slicker than the Datsun, which has long since been sold.

Godwin, now in charge of the nationally ranked diamond program at East Carolina University, returned to Louisburg as part of a ceremony that featured the naming of the Billy Godwin Clubhouse at picturesque Frazier Field on the LC campus.

Before Game One of a doubleheader against the University of South Carolina-Lancaster, Godwin received a plaque near home plate. Joining Godwin on the field were his wife (Sharon) and daughter (Mallory), along with LC President Mark La Branche, LC Athletic Director Mike Holloman, current LC coach John Thomas and former Hurricanes’ skipper Russ Frazier -- the legend who hired Godwin after his retirement in 1999.

Godwin had never coached above the high school level, but Frazier saw something in him, and he recommended his hiring.

“I’ll always be grateful to Coach Frazier for that,’’ Godwin said. “He believed in me. But not only was he the person who hired me, he was the person who ended up being my best friend -- and he still is.’’

Thomas is also a long-time cohort of Godwin’s and he and Frazier began to think of a way to honor Godwin, who led the Hurricanes to a pair of Region X Championships and one appearance in the National Junior College World Series during his six seasons at Louisburg.

“It’s well-documented how much I love Louisburg College, and I always will,’’ Godwin said. “When they first started talking to me about it, I wondered if maybe they should try to get somebody else -- I’m not really all about a lot of this (recognition) stuff.

“But Louisburg College is so special to me and my family -- what they did (last Saturday) was something that I will always appreciate.’’

It was only appropriate that the clubhouse would be named after Godwin -- considering it was his idea to build the facility in the first place.

When he arrived at Louisburg, Godwin wanted to enhance the facility at Frazier Field, and he made several changes before embarking on his biggest challenge of all.

Before Godwin’s plan, only a dugout existed on the home side of Frazier Field. Players dressed up the hill on campus, and equipment space was limited.

Godwin decided to erect the clubhouse behind the dugout, complete with locker stalls, a trophy case, lounge couches, a big-screen television and an improved storage area.

“It just started with me putting (stakes) in the ground,’’ Godwin said. “I’ve always believed that you have to take pride in your facilities and how you treat them.

“Even today (at ECU), if a player sees a piece of trash on the field, I want him to pick it up. If they see a picture in the locker room that is crooked, I want them to fix it.’’

Godwin was able to build the clubhouse completely with private funds in the winter of 2001.

There was plenty of elbow grease involved, and players did the majority of the work.

“I remember Josh Rupe, who went on to pitch for the Texas Rangers -- he would always be there when I asked for volunteers. I still can see him falling over a wheelbarrow on his way to the outfield. Mike Scanzano (long-time independent league standout) -- I can still see him holding a jackhammer. Those guys were always there when you needed them.’’

Louisburg also built plenty of team camaraderie that winter, and Godwin doesn’t think it was a coincidence that the Hurricanes reached the NJCAA World Series the ensuing spring.

“When we worked on that clubhouse together, it gave our players a sense of pride and vision,’’ Godwin said. “They saw what happened when we set a goal together.’’

Godwin left Louisburg for ECU in 2005, and he would eventually become the head coach for the Pirates.

But Godwin has never forgotten his roots, and he was honored to be able to make that 35-mile trip last Saturday -- one more time.

“It was awesome,’’ Godwin said. “As I was driving, I thought about how many times I’ve made this drive before. There were some great things to think about along the way.

“This is who I am -- it’s still who I am.’’

Pictured (Above): GODWIN SALUTED AT LOUISBURG COLLEGE. Northern Nash alum and Nash County resident Billy Godwin (second from left) was saluted last Saturday afternoon for his contributions to the baseball program at Louisburg College. Godwin received a plaque and had the team’s clubhouse named after him. Godwin spent six years as the skipper at LC before moving to East Carolina University, where he is currently the head diamond coach. Joining Godwin in the photo are (l to r) LC Athletic Director Mike Holloman, Mallory Godwin (daughter), LC baseball coach John Thomas, LC President Mark La Branche, former LC baseball coach Russ Frazier and Sharon Godwin (wife). (Graphic photo by Geoff Neville)

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