August 29, 2014

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Boys basketball: Medina’s Billy Geschke named Gazette MVP

“Normal is boring. Why not be something special. Show the world what you really can be.”

Behind the unassuming body and soft-spoken voice is one of the most optimistic, never-say-never 18-year-olds in high school basketball.

Medina senior Billy Geschke is the 2012-13 Gazette MVP for boys basketball. (GAZETTE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RON SCHWANE)

Billy Geschke’s work ethic is legendary in Medina. Certified gym rats are hard to ignore. There are few more qualified role models for children than the 6-foot-1, 160-pounder slated to glide across the hardwood for the next four years at Goshen College, a private NAIA school in Indiana.

What made him that way — always shooting for the stars, always driven to succeed, always looking ahead to future success and never back at past failure?

“It definitely comes from my parents (Bill and Laura), especially my dad,” Geschke said. “He’s always staying positive no matter what the situation is. Any time there’s a negative situation, there’s a way to turn it around. I never think down. I always think up. It brings into leadership and many other things.

“It translates into becoming a young man.”

Basketball isn’t just a sport to Geschke. It’s lifelong mindset, even after his body fails him and he can no longer play the game at an elite level.

Combine personality with skills refined on guts and Geschke is Gazette MVP.

“He’s definitely a great kid,” Bees coach Anthony Stacey said. “He’s got such a great, great work ethic and such a unique outlook. He’s carefree, in a way, but he is such a positive kid. He never gets too down. He has the right attitude of when he has a bad game, he just works harder. I’m definitely going to miss him.

“The kid is special, man. You couldn’t ask more of a kid who works so hard. Basketball meant as meant as much to him as it meant to me.”

High school sports are meant to teach young men and women the meaning of perseverance and using one’s abilities to help others achieve a common goal. This is all cliché, perhaps, and some don’t abide by it for reasons varying from the drive to get a college scholarship to the way they were raised.

Geschke is different than them despite finishing his career with 1,061 points after leading the rugged Northeast Ohio Conference with a 22.1 scoring average as a senior. Rarely the rah-rah type, he prefers to lead by example.

Then, there’s his account on Twitter, a website often filled with adolescent drama and hoards of negativity. Neither are found on the handle “WGeschke” because even the coldest person can find warmth from Geschke’s motivational quotes.

Many are from professional athletes and coaches. Others come from his heart or the Bible. All have meaning to Geschke, who not only posts them, but lives by them.

His philosophy: If you can inspire another, do so without hesitation.

“You’ll never be the best, if you don’t believe you can be the best”

“Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.”

“Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

“You should always be challenged in life. Things aren’t handed to you in life you have to earn them yourself. Those are true believers.”

“Nothing in life will be handed to me. I have to work everyday to get what I want. Just gotta work hard then.”

The last quote is why Geschke doesn’t have any regrets when looking back at his career.

As a junior, he carried the Bees in the regular season before sacrificing his scoring to help them stunningly reach the University of Akron Division I Regional championship game. As a senior, he carried them to a 12-11 record that appears disappointing on paper, but not when an incredibly tough schedule is factored in.

Geschke had his individual moments. There was scoring his 1,000th point on a pull-up jumper against Akron East, there was dropping 28 points in a come-from-behind overtime win at Hudson, there was carrying Medina to a 53-51 win over archival Brunswick — then one of the hottest teams in Northeast Ohio.

Last but not least, there was the ridiculous six-game stretch in late December and early January in which he averaged 27.8 points while leading the Bees to a 4-2 record that could have been 6-0 if not for could-have-gone-either-way losses to Suburban League champion Nordonia and NOC Valley Division winner Shaker Heights.

When asked to name the individual highlights of his career, Geschke mentioned none. He instead pointed to just being one of the guys.

Stacey has quickly forged a family atmosphere at Medina, and it’s one Geschke will always cherish.

“I’m proud of you guys on this years team!,” he tweeted just hours after the season ended. “Thank you all for such a memorable four years here at Medina! I love all of you guys very much!”

Medina loves Geschke, too, for who his is: A great basketball player, no doubt, but a great person, too.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, and passion to do whatever you dream of doing.”

Billy Geschke is still living his dream. Are you?

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.