“FANTASTIC. The word is just connected to him,” says Linda Anderson. “Mr. Elliott is just fantastic.”
Mr. Elliot, better known as Bill Elliot, is an architect who has lived in Preston Hollow for more than 35 years. What makes Elliott stand out is his continual commitment and involvement in the community, say his friends and neighbors.
“His service to the Preston Hollow community has ranged from building the original playground at Preston Hollow Elementary to coaching DI (Destination Imagination) and OM (Odyssey of the Mind) kids to begin the lacrosse coach and starting the lacrosse program in the community,” says Anderson, Elliott is co-coach of the Preston Hollow Elementary School Destination Imagination team.
Elliott started volunteering when he was 15 years old after being sidelined by a football injury. To stay active, he began coaching a six-man YMCA football team. That was just the beginning of his mile-high list of volunteer activities.
In 1992 Elliott began devoting his time to Odyssey of the Mind, a team competition where students work together to do complex problem solving. Using his knowledge of architecture, Elliott teaches his teams how to build structures needed for the competition.
“When my youngest child was in the fifth grade, he wanted to do it, so I decided to help,” Elliott says.
From then on, Elliott worked with various teams, watching the kids grow up as they moved from Kramer Elementary School to Franklin Middle School and up through Hillcrest High School.
“He loves kids and likes to lead them in the areas of their gifts and talents,” Anderson says. “He is very positive and upbeat with everyone he deals with.”
This spring, Elliott helped the Preston Hollow Elementary School team finish second at the Destination Imagination World Competition in Knoxville, Tenn.
Elliott also started the Hillcrest High School lacrosse team in 1996 and continues to coach the team today.
According to Elliott, lacrosse had become popular with Dallas private schools but was still foreign to public schools. A man whose son was going to Hillcrest contacted him with hopes of starting a team.
“He knew I had played in college and approached me about doing the coaching and field work,” Elliott says.
Karen Peterson, a Preston Hollow resident whose son played lacrosse for Elliott, says he did more than just teach the kids how to play lacrosse. He helped the team financially and the players emotionally.
“He has taken some boys who didn’t have much direction and has given them a reason to wake up in the morning,” Peterson says. “He’s given these boys a passion.”
Elliott coaches the team throughout the year, which includes daily practices and weekly games from January through April. In addition to being at all the practices and games, Elliott travels with the team to two out-of-town tournaments every year.
“He’s persistent,” Peterson says. “He took a rag-tag kind of orphan team … and turned them into a totally winning team.”
This past spring the Hillcrest High School Parent Teacher Student Association set up a scholarship in Elliott’s honor. It is awarded to a Hillcrest male or female lacrosse player.
“The scholarship isn’t necessarily for the best athlete,” Peterson says. “It is for a female or male who best exemplifies Bill’s can-do spirit, his motivation and persistence.”
In addition to coaching the Destination Imagination and lacrosse teams, Elliott is an Eagle Scout mentor and helped start the lacrosse team at St. Philips School this year.
Growing up, Elliott saw how a community has the potential to keep kids out of trouble and make them successful. That’s what keeps him volunteering year after year.
“I’ve always felt like the community can help raise kids,” Elliott says.
Anderson says Elliott is a positive role model for children and encourages and helps them in any situation, “even outside the athletic and competition fields.”
“The Preston Hollow community has been a richer community because of the love that Bill has for the kids in the community,” she says, “and because of his willingness to sacrifice his time.”
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