The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 6, 2009

Pittsburgh shooting: UPJ grad among victims

When George Sodini unleashed his violent frustrations on women exercising Tuesday night at a Pittsburgh health club, he took the life of a Pitt-Johnstown graduate and star basketball player.

Jody R. Billingsley, 37, of Mount Lebanon, was a 1994 cum laude graduate with a degree in biology.

She was part of back-to-back regional Lady Cat championship teams and still is ranked 21st all-time with 515 career rebounds.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that we have lost one of our Pitt-Johnstown alumni family,” university President Jem Spectar said Wednesday in a statement. “Today, Jody is being remembered across campus as an exemplary student and caring individual, who was highly regarded by both her professors and classmates. After graduation, she remained an active alumna, enjoying a successful career in the health-care industry and making a positive difference in her community. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends.”

Jodi Gault of Oil City, who retired after coaching UPJ women’s basketball for 25 years, was Billingsley’s former coach and a friend.

The two hailed from the same area in Franklin County and met when Gault taught a YMCA camp. The eighth-grader made an impression on the coach who recruited her out of high school.

“She was a great kid on the court and a great kid off the court,” Gault said.

Despite the years that had passed, the former player and coach kept in touch.

“I just spoke to her last week,” Gault said. “She called for my birthday.”

Billingsley was loyal to her alma mater and the basketball program.

“She was one of the kids who always came back for every alumni event,” her former coach said.

Gault said Billingsley returned to campus in April for the induction of her former teammate, Mindy Young-Gagliardi, into the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame.

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