Last Sunday at the Atlanta History Center, JaQue Billingsley was named the 2014 Georgia Disability Sports Awards Junior Male Athlete of the Year, beating out fellow nominees Collin Lancaster, Nicholas Pecora, Chance Boyd and Josh Joines for the award. Lancaster, Boyd and Joines play wheelchair basketball for the Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks. Pecora played competed for Gordan Central High School in track and field. Pecora played for Atlanta Phoenix Squirt Major hockey team.
Having graduated high school earlier this year, Billingsley played football for Pasadena City College as a defensive lineman, but only played the first two games. Outside of his football, he had an impressive 2013-2014 as a high school athlete, helping his high school team win three state championships in the able-bodied sports of football, basketball and handball. On the disability sport side, he competed at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports World Junior Games in powerlifting, where he set a record. This was followed up by being named the 2014 Paralympic High School Field Athlete of the Year.
Billingsley lost his leg his freshmen year in high school following an accident in wrestling. His coaches made a point not to single him out with his teammates by avoiding things like saying, “If JaQue can do it, you can do it.” Opposition and teammates acknowledge that in his role as a defensive tackle, he blocked really hard. Billingsley had hoped to play Division I football.
Other winners on the night include swimmer Harper Scott who was named Junior Female Athlete of the Year, swimmer Curtis Lovejoy who was named Adult Male Athlete of the Year, goalball player Amanda Dennis who was the Adult Female Athlete of the Year, track and field competitor Jacques Swafford who was named the Military Athlete of the Year, the Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks Prep Team who won the Junior Team of the Year, Houston County Sharks who won the High School Team of the Year, The Nautical Milers Swim Team who won the Adult Team of the Year, Julia Herring and Abby Lefkove who won the Volunteer of the Year, and goalball coach Hal Simpson who was named Coach of the Year.