Billings looks forward to remainder of season


Billings grabs the puck from the opponent. (Photo courtesy Jeannie Moore)

  Senior Walker Billings has been ice skating since he was two years old. He picked up a stick and puck when he was three and has been playing hockey ever since. Billings is a forward for the high school hockey team, the Sheridan Hawks. If he is not found on the ice, he will be in the mountains or taking pictures.

  Billings’s family involvement in hockey has helped him because he has always had someone to play with, whether it be his brothers, Blake and McCaffrey, or his parents. Billings’s dad helped with getting the original outdoor rink started in Sheridan. Billings’s mom also played, but she stopped playing a few years ago. When Billings was three years old, he was able to be on the ice all the time and his interest in hockey has lasted ever since.

   Billings’s hockey career went into jeopardy in Denver, Colo. on Oct. 11, 2017. After dropping off his brother at his house, he was on his way to pick up his sister, Ashley, when he got into a busy intersection. As soon as he turned out, another car had come over the hill and t-boned him in the intersection. Billings had surgery to get a plate and six screws in his collarbone which he had broken four times before the accident.

  The car accident kept Billings out of hockey for the initial eight games of his senior season, and his team saw how much one man can make an impact. “It’s awful,” said Billings. “It’s hard to go to practice and to just sit at the games.”

  Missing out on the first part of the season has taken its toll on the entire team because they look up to him on the ice. “It’s a real bummer for the whole team because he contributes a lot on and off the ice,” said senior wing Tristen Cox. “I think we all miss him during games, but we are all super stoked to have him back.”

  Being a senior athlete goes hand-in-hand with leadership. As one of the oldest guys on the ice, the younger athletes look up to Billings a lot more and he gets more playing time. As a forward, Billings does not necessarily feel any more responsibility on the ice, however, he becomes the outlet for passing. He helps to carry the puck up the ice and take shots on the goal.

  The main thing that hockey has taught Billings is hard work. “Hard work gets you a long ways,” said Billings. “There’s some kids that don’t put the effort in and they don’t go far at all and there’s some kids that put the effort in and it helps in all parts of life.”

  Last season, when Billings was a junior, the Hawks went undefeated and then lost in the championship. He and his teammates banded together and became closer so that no one was too beat up at the outcome of the season. Most of the guys from last year returned this season, so it has created more time to build a brotherhood between Billings and his teammates. “With my teammates, stuff is more important than just hockey,” said Billings. “There’s a lot of stuff we do outside of the rink that is more important than just the game. You just have to learn to appreciate that kind of stuff.” The Hawks make time off the ice to hang out with each other. They go to restaurants after their games and most practices, and they also play Xbox together. Having such a big impact on his team, Billings’s team was overjoyed to have him back on the ice, practicing and playing once again.

  One of Billings’s favorite teammates is senior center Justin Bailey because they are the same size and skill level, and there is always a sense of competitiveness between the two seniors. Being friends and playing with Bailey since they were seven years old, Billings has created a brother-like relationship with Bailey’s younger brother, L.J., who he has also had a big impact on. “Walker and I have been friends since I was in third grade so he has been like a big brother,” said sophomore center L.J. Bailey. “He is a great leader for all of us on the high school team.” Billings most definitely sees his team as more of a family than just teammates.

  Billings works for the YMCA in Sheridan in the after school program for elementary-aged kids. In the program, Billings is the first grade group leader, so the children mainly do crafts and play games. “It makes everyday better,” said Billings. “Like if I have a bad day at school, I go to work right after and everything is better because the kids are always happy.” Billings became interested when one of his friends was working at the YMCA. He then applied for the job and got hired. It helped show him that he wanted to be an elementary school teacher, which was something that he was not interested in before. Billings wants to go to Sheridan College for two years and the University of Wyoming for the final two years to receive his bachelor’s degree. Billings wants to come back to Sheridan to teach because he enjoys the small town atmosphere and he wants to be close to the mountains for snowboarding and other activities. Billings does not plan to play hockey competitively after high school, but he will continue to play men’s league hockey.

  Billings is the son of John and Rachel Billings.