This week, we feature Devin Billings, our new varsity wrestling coach. Billings started his wrestling career when he was just 5 years old in Gainesville, Fla., and by the time he was in high school, he was a two-time state placer and a two-time All-American. After accepting a football scholarship to LaGrange College, Billings ended his college career as a four-year starter and first-team All-American wide receiver. After college and completing his master’s degree, he quickly returned to the wrestling mat as a coach at East Paulding High School and Archer High School, where he helped mold multiple state placers and qualifiers. During 2019-2020, Billings was an assistant coach here at Pace and worked closely with Gus Whyte, Grady Stevens and our Middle School wrestling coaches.
Q: Describe your first coaching experience post college and what it taught you.
My first coaching experience right after college was eye-opening. I was the new head coach at a school where I needed to organize booster parents, scheduling a season of matches and developing young men as a first-year coach made me realize I needed to mature quickly. I am grateful for that experience and the relationships that I built because they assisted in my continuous passion for wrestling.
Q: As an assistant coach at Pace last year, what great memories stand out?
That’s a great question because what I love about wrestling is that it’s a small community of families, teammates, and coaches. I really enjoyed getting to know the guys. After one year, I felt like I have been coaching them for several years. A specific wrestling memory would be the Buckhead Belt. It was my first time seeing the rivalry in action so I easily fell into the Pace Academy school pride vortex. We closed out our first win in a comeback victory against Westminster in a back-to-back pinning situation. Our bench and stands went wild, and I was the happiest man alive!
Q: If you had one piece of advice for any student-athlete at any level, what would it be?
I would advise any student-athlete to learn from the opportunities that are available. Whether it’s in the classroom or in your sport, I believe as humans we are continuously learning through good and bad experiences, so always try to find what you’ve learned from the experience itself, and once you are willing to do that, you’ll find real growth in yourself.