ELIDA — Jenni McGraw and Chrissy Billiter were teammates at Elida.
So it worked out in a very logical order that McGraw and Billiter will be inducted into the Elida Hall of Fame together this weekend.
McGraw (Elida class of 1992) and Billiter (Elida class of 1995) will join Raymond Sroufe (Elida class of 1959, football, basketball, baseball, track) in this weekend’s induction ceremonies. The group will be honored at the Archbold at Elida boys basketball game on Saturday at the Elida Fieldhouse.
It was when McGraw was a senior and Billiter was a freshman that the two played together for the Bulldogs. That team advanced as far as the regional. When McGraw was a sophomore, the Bulldogs reached the 1990 state finals.
“She (Billiter) was a freshman, but she contributed to the success of our team that year,” McGraw said.
As a senior, Billiter helped lead Elida to the 1995 state title game, where it finished as state runner-up.
McGraw scored 993 points at Elida. She was named first team all-Western Buckeye League, first team all-district and third team all-state. She went on to score 1,497 points with 423 assists as a first team All-American at the University of Findlay.
McGraw’s 1,497 points are second all-time at Findlay behind fellow Elida grad Mianda Watts’ 1,898.
Billiter was named all-Western Buckeye League four times and was a two-time, first team all-state player. She’s the all-time scorer for girls basketball at Elida with 1,875 career points. Billiter averaged 22.9 points as a senior and 21.7 as a junior.
Billiter, who went on to play at Bowling Green State, is now the co-head girls basketball coach at Elida.
McGraw became involved in coaching, as well. She was the head girls basketball coach at Allen East from 1998 to 2006.
Then, feeling rundown and mentally on empty, McGraw decided to quit coaching. She said she felt “burned out.”
As it turned out, there was a much larger reason for her lack of energy.
“I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007,” McGraw said. “I was so exhausted.”
After three surgeries, McGraw is feeling healthy these days. She’s teaching at Allen East, and her daily regime includes working out after work.
“I’m feeling good and enjoying life now not coaching,” McGraw said. “It’s less stressful and I don’t know if I need that stress. … Maybe one day I’ll get back in it at some level as an assistant.”
Both McGraw and Billiter played for Elida Hall of Fame coach Vicki Mauk, who guided Elida to the 1997 state championship. Mauk passed away at the age of 42.
“The work ethic she instilled in both of us, the dedication and the hard work, those values you keep with you as an adult,” McGraw said. “I’m constantly working hard and on the move. Some of those things are because of Vicki and the tradition at Elida.”
Both Billiter and McGraw were scorers. Billiter found numerous ways to score from any place on the floor.
And while McGraw could score, she also was quick to make a critical pass or dive across the floor for a loose ball.
“I wasn’t the most talented player,” McGraw said. “But I worked hard and was competitive.”
As McGraw’s post-Elida journey has taken her through some tough times, she’s been thankful for the game of basketball.
“It played a huge role in who I am,” McGraw said. “That’s why I decided to teach.”