It’s All-Heart for Soroco assistant | SteamboatToday.com

It’s All-Heart for Soroco assistant

It eats up his vacation at work and his free time away from work. It leaves him hobbling into the house on some nights, sore and wondering, wondering if maybe serving as an assistant coach for the Soroco High School wrestling program at 52 isn't as good of an idea as it was at 30.

"I use a lot of ice," he said, "and a hot tub."

Travis Bruggink said the same thing drove him this last winter that drove him his first —he loves the sport and what it does for young athletes, and he loves that he's able to help them along a path he took himself years ago.

Bruggink's commitment to Soroco wrestling drew the eyes of the selection committee for the Johnsons' All-Heart award, given annually by the staff at Buena Vista High School. The award honors Dwayne and Dawna Johnson, who were killed in a 2013 rock slide. Both served as assistant coaches at the school, and their award is meant to recognize deserving assistant coaches from around the state.

Bruggink was presented a plaque at the school's sports banquet May 21.

Inspired in part by his own wrestling coach through his youth, long-time Soroco coach Dave Schmittle, Bruggink’s been serving as an assistant coach at some level for Soroco wrestlers for roughly 30 years. He stepped in as an assistant with the high school program with Jay Whaley as head coach in 2008.

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Nearly 10 years later, the pair is still running the program, getting kids out for the sport and helping build them into state tournament-qualifying wrestlers.

"It's really nice to be appreciated," Bruggink said, "though, I knew I was appreciated. The kids I coach let me know I'm appreciated, and the other coaches."

It's a volunteer gig that Bruggink squeezes in with his full-time job as an electrician at the Twentymile Mine.

He's coached his son Shaye through the programs and his daughter Lauryn, who in 2010 became the first girl to win a match at the Colorado state wrestling tournament.

She graduated in 2012, and it seemed like that might have been the end of Travis Bruggink's time as a coach. But, he said he'd promised younger athletes he'd coach through their careers. And when those athletes graduated, he'd promised others.

When he was 30, he said he could tangle with the athletes on the team without feeling it at home. Now, the ice and the hot tub come into play.

He's said he's still not ready to quit, however. He's year by year at this point, and for this coming year, he's already ready to go again.

"I still look forward to going to the wrestling room," he said. "When I stop looking forward to that, it'll be time to be done. At this point, I still love it."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9