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Originally published: 2014-06-22 17:29:54
Last modified: 2014-06-22 17:30:37

Behr: Dicus tournament good for Watauga community

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

It's hard to find a more cheerful individual than Bill Dicus.

The head men's golf coach is completely at home, not just on the golf course, but at a youth baseball field. Dicus coached a Junior League Baseball team this spring, but that's only a part of his contribution to the Watauga baseball scene.

Arguably, his biggest contribution was the formation of the Will Dicus Memorial Baseball Tournament, which began Saturday and continues today at various baseball fields in town.

It all started when Watauga was hosting all-star tournaments. Dicus was working the public address at Optimist Park, but wanted something better.

"Six years ago, I wanted to buy a PA system, so I needed to raise $850," Dicus said. "I raised $1,100, and I thought I was the king of the world. If the weather cooperates this weekend, we've got a chance to raise more than $15,000."

The annual tournament was named after Will Dicus, who is Bill's son. Will Dicus died of Ewing's sarcoma after battling it for five years.

Bill Dicus knows that Will Dicus would be neck deep in responsibility with the tournament if he was still alive.

"I'll tell you, the painful memories were there for a number of years, and they're still there, too," Dicus said. "Eventually, people who lose children will tell you that eventually it comes down to the good memories. I think about how much he would enjoy doing this. That's it. I told somebody today that we are going to be OK weatherwise, because we've got somebody who really likes baseball looking out over this thing, so we are going to be all right."

No doubt, everybody who knew Will Dicus thought about him in one way or another.

For me, it's about how hard he threw as a 12-year-old pitcher for the Watauga Little League All-Star team, and how he still had good stuff on the mound during his final summer season.

It's about how he would ask anybody within listening distance why a pitcher would throw a breaking ball when a fastball would have been the better choice.

He knew at least as much as I did about the game by the time he was 16. I can picture him in the third baseline coaching box giving signs to a 13-year old hitter.

Still, the tournament is alive and well. It welcomed 36 baseball teams in three divisions, and four softball teams to Boone.

What tournament organizers would like to do is eventually raise enough money to build an indoor batting facility at Watauga High School. The tournament is the major fundraiser for building the facility.

The fund is up to $65,000, which is still well short of the $150,000 needed to build a facility.
The committee that is raising the money would like some financial help from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners and the town of Boone. They aren't asking for the entire bill, but they could use some help in the construction of the facility.

I don't really know how much they should contribute. Maybe finding after the committee raises $100,000. The programs actually had an indoor facility at the old high school, but was not allowed to bring it over to the new school.

Certainly, something can be done. This may not be the top priority, but there is a need. The baseball and softball programs can use the help.