There isn't a perspective of football that Tyson Vigil hasn't seen. Growing up, he played both 8-man and 6-man in high school before heading to Cornell College in Iowa where he got next-level taste of the 11-man game.
Since graduating, he has become an official and a volunteer assistant at Las Animas before taking the head job a year ago.
This spring, the Trojans have seen early success on the gridiron which has been difficult to come by in recent years. When their season got moved to Season C, a hunger and desire to play renewed a love of the game back to the small town sandwiched between La Junta and Lamar.
Las Animas is the No. 4 team in the CHSAANow.com rankings and Vigil has been named the Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
The Broncos Coach of the Week is selected in partnership with CHSAA and the Denver Broncos. Find a complete list of winners on this page.
Tyson Vigil bio
Years as head coach: 2 (3-9)
Years at Las Animas: 2 (2-1 this season)
Previous stops: Las Animas assistant (2015-18); Las Animas head coach (2019-present)
* Question: Why do you coach?*
Vigil: Well, I got into coaching because I love the sport; well, sports in general, but I'm loving now because I've started to understand the connections that I'm making with the players and the lessons that I'm hoping I'm teaching them can carry on for their lives later on. And that makes me reflect back on my own personal athletic career and all the lessons I learned. I started just for the love of sports, and now it's more like a personal connection to the athletes that I'm working with.
Q: Why do you coach the way that you coach?
Vigil: I pretty much coach the way I was coached growing up. I was real fortunate to play for a family of coaches in the Lovato's when I played at Cheraw High School and they were a very caring, very nurturing, but stern set of coaches and they got the most out of their athletes that they could.
I just modeled myself after them, as well as my dad. He was always a coach for me growing up and he was a lot of the same and it becomes more of a character-building thing than it is a wins and losses kind of thing. At least whenever I was an athlete. I just tried to pass that along and pay it forward to the kids that I'm coaching now.
Q: What do you think it's like to be coached by you?
Vigil: Well, that might depend on who you ask. I think the kids like me and they appreciate the effort that I put forward, but then on the flip side of it, one of my best players, my quarterback, is my son.
I wonder, but I don't think so, but at times there might be a little friction there. Not really, I just worry about it because it's hard to be coaching and be dad at the same time. He seems so much like me that there's really not that much conflict involved. If I would put myself in a player's shoes, I would think that they would look at me like someone who cares about them as a person and as students, more so than just a football player.
Q: One of the odd benefits I'm seeing with some of the schools playing in Season C this year is that it's almost like there's a spark that's reigniting interest in some programs. Has that been the case at Las Animas?
Vigil: I took over our program last year and I think a fresh change was a start in the right direction. But the fact that we didn't get to play in the fall was a disappointment, but at the same time, a blessing. The kids realized how much they really cherish participation and competition. We did our best to satisfy that during the fall when we didn't have football by having workouts.
By the time the actual season rolled around, the guys were hungry and they were ready to compete. And it had been so long, it was just like quenching of the thirst for them. They're playing the best ball that Las Animas has seen in years right now. I really think it's a lot of factors involved, but that big, long layoff of no football made them want it and appreciate it that much more. That goes for me too. I find myself rejuvenated as a coach being that I was away from the game for so long.
I was fortunate enough, I'm also an official, so I was able to kind of satisfy my hunger back in the fall. In fact, I was fortunate enough to officiate in the 8-man state championship game during the fall season. And I even got to do that with my dad and he and I got to work together. It was little weird to be just officiating and not coaching at the time, but at the same time, I was really missing football as a coach. I think the players felt the same way.
Q: Officials tend to get so much grief, does that help your perspective from a coaching standpoint to be able to see both sides of the game?
Vigil: Actually, at times I think that it kind of works against me. As an official, and I've been an official a lot longer than I've been a coach, I sympathize and empathize with the officials. There are times where maybe I should fight a little bit more for a call that goes against us, but there have been so many times and I've had my rear end chewed that I don't want to be that coach and that guy that I don't like to deal with.
But at the same time, it also helps me to play my cards right. I know what an official wants to hear and I know what they don't want to hear. I try to avoid those things that they don't want to hear. And I try to say the things that will help me. It's kind of a catch-22 at times but I think all in all, having seen both sides of the coin, it works to my benefit.
Q: Going back to the resurgence in programs that can happen with this spring season, how do you instill that culture into a team so that hopefully that momentum carries over into the fall?
Vigil: It's kind of a nice thing, the fact that we're getting two football seasons out of one year. We don't have a long layoff with different sports being played and then, again, having that long layoff. So we're going to get through this season hopefully successfully, and we won't have a very long break before we're back at it again. My returning players next year will be pretty fresh in terms of both physical conditioning and mental conditioning. I see it being a pretty good thing, really.
Q: We're asking kids to battle through so much adversity at this point in their lives, how have your boys handled it and what do you think is the biggest lesson that they've learned through high school athletics?
Vigil: This has been the craziest year of any kind of sporting or academic year that I've been a part of. I think that's paying off on the field because they've had to fight through not being in school and once we did get back in school, it looked a lot different than it did back before the pandemic. And so, they're having to learn to adapt to life and that pays off on the football field because they can adapt to adversity on the field.
Whenever something goes wrong on the field, they can change things and move forward and do whatever it takes to be successful.
So in some ways, it's been a bad experience with COVID changing the whole landscape of life, but it's also providing the student-athletes with the opportunity to be able to adapt, to change and be able to accept the fact that there are some things that are out of your control, but they have to move past those and move forward.
Q: Do you think that it helps to grow their appreciation of high school sports at the same time?
Vigil: Oh, absolutely. Like I was saying, the fact that these guys were unable to do anything during the entire fall, they realized how much it means to them and how much they get out of it. And myself included, being away from coaching was really difficult, but whenever this season rolled around, I really got to soak it in. I really got to make the most of it. And I really got to appreciate the opportunities I've been given. And I think the kids have the same mindset.
Story Written By: Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com
Photo Provided by Las Animas High School