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Editorial: WUSD hits a homerun with Phillip Echeverria gymnasium dedication

Phillip Echeverria. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Phillip Echeverria. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

I couldn't imagine a more fitting honor than when the administration at Williams Unified School District decided to name the Williams High School gym after recently retired athletic director, Phillip Echeverria.

I have known Phillip for over 14 years, first meeting him when Shaelee, Chyanne and JP played on a Little League team with my children.

My three boys progressed through the Little League teams, alongside Phillip's children, until they reached high school where Phillip coached my boys on the Vikings baseball team.

The going was not always easy with my three teenagers, but Phillip was a great ally who mentored them with endless patience.

When I began working at the Williams-Grand Canyon News in 2015, I became more involved with the high school and created a special section called "Senior Spotlights" that highlights each senior in their final year of school.

During those interviews we typically ask the seniors to tell us about their favorite high school experiences and identify people who have supported them in their education.

Phillip's name routinely comes up from not only the athletes he coached, but from the many non-athletes at the school.

Students often say that Phillip took the time to listen to them and helped them find their way at the school. Many said he was like a dad to them.

His way of caring about his students carried through on and off the athletic fields. He was able to teach his athletes respect, and reach the non-athletes in a way that made them feel special and heard.

Phillip understands the importance of giving every student a time in the spotlight, and he routinely reached out to me at the newspaper to highlight some special event or accomplishment of a student.

Phillip himself was an accomplished young athlete who not only became a talented coach, but a skilled administrator.

There is no doubt that he had opportunities to leave Williams, but I believe his heart and soul belongs to this community and we are all the richer for it.

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