Dr. Billy Atkins spent 20 years of his life playing lacrosse. In 2016, he picked up his lacrosse stick again.
But, this time his role is more of a coach than a player as he works to mold 17 rising fourth- and fifth-graders from Wilmington, Delaware into better lacrosse athletes.
“There are very few black lacrosse players at a young age,” he told a group gathered for the scholarship award dinner during the sixth annual Edward Taylor Coombs Foundation golf outing.
Atkins and his group of young athletes are looking to change that. He began working with the players in 2016 and was recently granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Dubbed ETC 34s, the team pays tribute and honor to Edward Coombs, who once wore the No. 34 Marist College men’s lacrosse jersey.
“Eddie is one of those special people to me,” Atkins said, adding that he grew up with his daughter.
Atkins showed a video of his team playing and discussing what they like about lacrosse. He then presented Edward’s parents, Eric and Forrestine, and his sister, Erin, with kid-sized No. 34 jerseys signed by the young players.
Edward’s uncle, Richard Taylor, said the hope is that one day the young men on the ETC 34s team would be at a future scholarship award dinner receiving scholarships for their hard work.
“That gives life again to Edward’s legacy,” he said.
During the dinner, Edward’s father, Eric, thanked all who have helped to keep his son’s memory alive. He pointed out that when the family began the Edward Taylor Coombs Foundation in 2011 the goal was to “just give back” and award a few scholarships. Nearly six years later the Foundation has distributed more than $360,000 in scholarships.
“Edward’s legacy is beyond,” his proud father said. “Edward’s entire being is beyond.”