|men we love | January/February 2016
On the ball:
Meet Cy Timmons
by Tina Ding
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Cy Timmons has entered the building!" Recently, an eighth grade boys' basketball team rose to their feet and cheered for the arrival of their coach at practice. Timmons is a man they love, a man they respect, and a man they want to be around -- and these boys are gearing up to play a little 2015 boys' basketball.
"To see a reaction such as this within a group of boys awaiting their coach for their first season practice says a lot about his character," Wachter Middle School Athletic Director Dallas Hinderer said. "Always with a smile on his face, he demonstrates a good-natured attitude that rubs off on those around him -- players, coaches, [and] staff."
Cy Timmons originally moved to Bismarck to attend Bismarck State College, where he had scholarships in both basketball and baseball. He later received a basketball scholarship at the University of Mary.
Timmons graduated with an education degree, and took a teaching position with Christ the King School in Mandan. With summers off, he opted for opportunities to work in both athletics and in a social setting. Before he knew it, he was tending bar and volunteering for the McQuade Softball Tournament. Eventually, Timmons shifted from teaching at the elementary level to high school, where he began working as a detention supervisor at Bismarck High School. Along with teaching and bartending, he began coaching basketball.
"To work with students in the way I do is so rewarding," Timmons said. "By the time students come to me for either in-school suspension or detention, they have already been spoken with. They have already owned up to the reason they earned time with me. And they come to see me for a number of reasons... But while they are with me, we're working it out by completing their homework or getting with their teachers to be sure they have everything they need."
Colleague and teacher Dale Colby said that although Timmons' apparent focus is largely on the narrow margin of students who see him for detention, he also supervises the commons area, where he goes above and beyond to make connections with each of the larger group of kids he would otherwise not encounter. "He makes it a point to reach out to every student, and they to him, on an ongoing basis," Colby said. "He's very much the pulse of our school. He's not too hard on kids, not too easy -- he's just plain smooth. He gets how to reach them and how to model doing the right thing."
Now in his 28th year at BHS, Timmons has tallied years in athletic coaching, as well. "Thirty-five years helping in softball, during which I spent 20 years running the men's softball tourney. I've coached across Bismarck, for both boys' and girls' basketball at elementary levels, middle school levels, on up to high school and at the college level," he said.
And those kiddos he coached in their elementary school years grew up. Some have entered college and continue to play ball. "I just love the game and coaching the kids, watching them develop their skills as they grow older," Timmons said. "And the kids remember me. They approach me as I attend basketball games or visit me while I tend bar. And I'm constantly reminded that I had a part in these great kids' lives. Seeing them successful at basketball is very rewarding."
Timmons also bartends at the Elbow Room. "He is well liked around here," bartender/server and co-worker Donna Elkins said. "In thirty years' time, I've never seen him raise his voice or become upset. He is the nicest guy. And students from his past stop in. They buy one another a drink. Cy would help anyone out, never asking for anything in return."
Hinderer sees Timmons as a man filled with passion as well as compassion, and one who demonstrates a deep level of commitment to his team, whether as their coach, as their colleague, or as a teacher. "He brings so much to them, modeling mutual respect. He tends to follow kids' careers as they grow and develop, remembering their names -- having established relationships along the way."
Some of the students do stop at school to visit with Timmons, and he recognizes the significance of their doing so. "I see a lot of kids through each year, but those that come back to see me helps me to recognize the impact I've had on them," he said. "I don't think kids would come back to 'see Cy' if I hadn't impacted their life in some way."
Tina Ding is a teacher, freelance writer and grad school student with plenty of time for her husband and three children. She also loves photography, scrapbooking, reading and traveling.