Making a Difference On and Off the Field
By Margarita Mendoza, Editor El Observador
February 1, 2024

ELGIN—On Jan. 25, students and educators at St. Edward Central Catholic High School surprised Tim Brieger for “National Mentor Month, which honors those enhancing the lives of others through experience, knowledge or kindness in the game of life,” said Joe Trost, director of Buddy’s HELPERS.

Trost noted that the “beloved 30-year veteran teacher and coach at St. Edward High School has been a true leader in and out of the classroom.”

For that reason, Brieger received the surprise “on his birthday with family, friends and the entire student body and school on hand,” he added. 

A few highlights:  

The following list of quotes was taken into consideration by Buddy’s HELPERS in choosing to honor Coach Tim Brieger:

-- Each year, Tim has service projects set up to enhance the lives of others. That’s 30 consecutive years of projects — not just one a year, but multiple. These projects help those in need, but more importantly engage and educate young people and future leaders about how easy it is to make a difference in the rest of their lives.

-- Tim has coached some of the best teams in the state and some that have not been very good record-wise. But no matter what, he’s always reminding kids about the human element of competition. Competitors on the field, teammates in the game of life.
Example: After games, Tim’s team has food and other items waiting for them. Over the years, Tim also helped build out items for other teams postgame that may not have the same resources. 

-- From helping people with special needs, the homeless or low-income families to being an advocate for small schools, domestic abuse education or ending hunger, Tim has consistently — with a disciplined mindset — helped so many.

Buddy’s HELPERS is “an organization that uses the power of sports to engage and educate student athletes by making a difference on and off the field. For the past 97 consecutive months we have recognized athletes and coaches making a difference in our community,” said Trost. Over the next few days, Trost said he would also be recognizing people in Grand Rapids, Miami, and Dallas.

“We are doing something extra for Tim,” he said: that “he will now have the opportunity to surprise someone else in February, March, April, and May — a student here that is making a difference.”

What the students say

Several St. Edward students shared how this teacher and coach has impacted their lives.

“He helps me,” said Robby Sommer, a junior student, center back soccer player and a Real Madrid fan.  “I’m the student council president, and he is the leader of this organization. He continuously helps us whenever we need … and on the soccer field he’s not the type of coach that gets mad at you for making mistakes. He tries to support you … and he will push you to be your best.”

Senior Morgan Lutzow, who is part of the women’s soccer team at St. Edward, notes that Coach Brieger “always makes the classroom and the field an open space (where) you can always come and talk to him … He only wants the best for us and makes sure we understand what is going on and we are doing our best.”

“He always pushes us to do our best … and try our hardest,” said junior Josh Pottorff, St. Edward soccer player and Barcelona fan.

Some alumni also participated in the celebration. María Franco, 2018, was one of them. “I came to support him,” she said, recalling that “during one of the games, I had to be a goalie. (I had never been) a goalie, (but) he said, ‘I (will) train you.’ He believed in me… (and) I was a goalie for two years after,” she said.

Always a Green Wave

Tim Brieger graduated from St. Edward in 1991. In 1995 after college, he returned to stay at what he describes as a “small” and “family” school.

St. Edward “is a family, and they know I do everything for them, and they would do everything for me,” Brieger said. About the recognition, he said, “It is not me, it’s all the assistant coaches I had over the years, (and it) is always amazing kids, the administration …”

“He is just an awesome guy,” said athletic director, P.J. White. White kept Brieger busy on a computer, while in the gymnasium, students, staff, organizers, media, and visitors gathered to set up the surprise.

The event included green and yellow ballons, and 21 students held letters to form the message: “THANK YOU COACH BRIEGER!” 

Brieger also received two tickets to attend a sports event of his choice and a donation to his favorite charity.

His wife, Kelly, said, “Tim doesn’t like any extra attention put on him. He is always about the kids, so this was a nice opportunity for him … to celebrate (how) he is being a mentor to so many different kids.”





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