During this current time of uncertainty and negative news, one of the most important things to do is to try to stay positive. With plenty of news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming election later this year, there is at least one person trying to keep the positivity: Big Spring teacher and coach Eric Tuttle.
“I just wanted to shed some good and positive light on some things,” Tuttle said. “We need to have more than coronavirus and election stuff going on social media and the news.”
The world of sports stopped spinning exactly one month ago today. Before a game between the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz, it was discovered by a team doctor that All-Star center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. Since the cancellation of that game and the subsequent suspension of the NBA season, every sports league from the professional to little league level has been shut down.
Schools all across the country have also closed down and that means that there is no extracurricular activities taking place. After a couple of days away from school and practice, which is part of his daily routine, Tuttle resorted to using social media to keep in contact with some of his student-athletes and to spread more positive vibes throughout the community.
Every day, Tuttle tweets out several photos with the same caption: “I have been thinking about my kids/students a lot so I wanted to share a few photos a day just for fun.”
The photos are from postgame celebrations, practices during the season, and school events such as graduation. All of the pictures appear to have several smiling faces, Tuttle’s trademark beard, and the more-than-occasional “Horns Up” hand motion from Tuttle and the Big Spring athletes he is pictured with.
After building a routine that lasts almost all 12 months of the year, Tuttle has been thrown off by the current situation. Without being able to practice or compete against other competition, Big Spring athletes are being forced to workout on their own while quarantined at home.
Head Coach Cannon McWilliams has also used Twitter to relay daily workout routines to his players. Outside of those daily sweat-starters, the entire football coaching staff is in wait-and-see mode for when they are finally able to get back in the weight room and onto the field.
“It’s been challenging,” Tuttle said. “It’s such a big part of my life and when you’re not around your kids, you’re not around your coaching staff, and you’re not around the faculty at school it’s very different and unexplainable really.”
In terms of the school closure, Tuttle feels badly for the seniors who are not getting to live out the remainder of their high school careers in the hallways that they have roamed for the past four years. During a teacher workday last month, Tuttle was told to prepare two weeks worth of work for his students. When he arrived at the school, he was stunned by the complete silentness that filled the school’s atmosphere.
In what is now his pinned tweet on his account, Tuttle posted a picture of an empty hallway he observed that day at Big Spring High School along with the following message to his students:
“I walked to my classroom with no kids in the hall this morning. It breaks my heart for the students that call this place their home. These kids spend more time with their teachers and coaches than they do with their own family sometimes and now they can not. Who knows when this will end? Seniors may miss out on so many memories and I feel it too. Please say a prayer for students and seniors across the U.S. I know I miss seeing all my kids and know Coach Tuttle is here if anyone needs me.”
Being a high school teacher/coach is a time-consuming job that requires the level of passion that Tuttle shows both on and off of the field. Players are not allowed to practice with their teammates or listen to direct coaching during this time but Tuttle’s tweets should show just how much the Big Spring coaching staff cares about their student-athletes.
Tuttle said he likes to keep in contact with his athletes to check up on them and see how they’re doing on a regular basis during this uncertain time. While most students enjoy an occasional day off, Big Spring student-athletes are missing their usual school and practice routine.
“Most of the kids I’ve talked to wish they could be back in school right now,” Tuttle said.
The future of the 2019-20 school year still appears uncertain but students and teachers are hoping they can return to Big Spring High School next month. With more and more negative reports coming in daily referring to the coronavirus or the election coming up in November, Tuttle will continue to try spreading more positivity through his Twitter account. After over a decade of coaching Steer athletes, his vault of photos has been opened and they will continue to come until the Steers return to school and practice.
“It’s just a little token of my gratitude for being able to coach a lot of these great kids that have come out of this community over the last 12 years,” Tuttle said.
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.