MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY - The name "Coach Widgeon" is well known in Carteret County. This former basketball coach has worked hard to bring big titles to the men's basketball team at West Carteret High School as well as winning some of his own.
Widgeon has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. At the same time, his former students have found a way to make sure his name lives on. They have asked the West Carteret High School gym be named after the coach.
"Whether they played golf or played basketball or whether they were in his math classes (former students) say that he taught them lessons that lasted a lifetime and hopefully his legacy will be remembered forever," says County Board Member Mark Mansfield who was a former player of Widgeon's.
Typically the board will take a full year to approve nominations like the one proposed to honor Widgeon. However, in this case, they have opted to waive the one-year waiting period and approve the decision.
"We have the waiting period basically to make sure that you are being prudent and making a good decision, and it was unanimous. I think it was a great decision." says Mansfield.
A few months ago Widgeon was diagnosed with colon cancer. Those involved with the nomination say they hope he will be in good enough health to come to the ceremony in which the name change will be announced. A plaque will be hung outside the gym and new decals will be painted on the floor that say "Widgeon's Court".
"There are many coaches that have come along but there's only certain ones like Billy Widgeon. He's a rare commodity." says current head basketball coach Craig McClanahan at West Carteret.
Widgeon has had 106 state victories (a state record). He lead a West Carteret Team to win a state championship. As a teenager he attended Newport High School where he won a state championship. He made the state tournament seventeen different times during his career, ten of which were consecutive.
Coach Widgeon is also a member of the West Carteret Hall of Fame, the Barton College Hall of Fame, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.