Teacher and athletic coordinator has been face of the campus since Hockinson High School opened in 2003
Beth Tugaw stood in a storage shed, working the remote that controls the scoreboard for the very first high school football games at Hockinson High School.
“We had that one little stadium,” she said. “We didn’t have a microphone or anything like that. Kids were just playing.”
Years later, she watched the Hockinson Hawks win a state championship in football.
The next year, she was on the sideline at the Tacoma Dome when the Hawks rallied to win another state title.
The victories, in all sports, are memorable, but they would not mean nearly as much without the students backing those teams.
“We’ve had several teams go to state tournaments, but I don’t want to say that’s what makes it the best,” Tugaw said. “It’s the kids in the stands, cheering on the teams. That’s the best part of it, getting all the kids involved, whether they are athletes or not.”
A teacher at Hockinson High School since it opened in 2003, and an educator with 37 years experience, Tugaw might be known more as the school’s spirit leader. She has had so many roles. From P.E. and health teacher, to teaching leadership classes, and a stint as the athletic director and then more years as an athletic coordinator.
For Tugaw, every day was about the joy of being a Hockinson Hawk.
It was easy for her, because she has lived in Hockinson her whole life.
The students and faculty are celebrating Tugaw in the final days of this school year — her final year. Tugaw is going out, retiring, with the Class of 2022.
“What I’m going to miss the most is the students,” she said. “They support each other. They’re just good people. Hockinson is a lot of good people. That’s the special part of it.”
Tugaw attended Hockinson schools from kindergarten through eighth grade. Alas, there was no high school back then. So students went to Battle Ground High School.
“Prairie (High School) wasn’t built yet. I’m that old,” she said.
Later, she would become a teacher in the Battle Ground School District. When she heard that Hockinson Public Schools planned to build a high school, she just knew she wanted to be part of that, to teach at her home school.
“I still live in Hockinson,” she said. “I live right behind where I grew up.”
That first year, the 2003-04 school year, Hockinson only had sophomores and freshmen. As a P.E. and health teacher, she had every student in the school in at least one of her classes. She got to know them. Soon, she was going to their sporting events and other activities.
Her love for all things Hockinson was contagious. She was asked to start a leadership class in Year 2 of the high school. Tugaw jumped at the chance. Later she got into athletic administration, all while teaching still.
Tugaw was instrumental in making all students feel like part of the team.
“We’ve had some great assemblies here with our color war assemblies. I think we can top any high school around here with our color war assemblies. The kids will tell you that,” she said.
The jobs she had required a lot of hours.
There were those days when Hockinson hosted volleyball and soccer matches on the same day. And of course, football might have started small but those games turned into the community’s main attraction.
“A football game doesn’t start at 7 for us,” Tugaw said. “It starts right after school for set-up.”
From fall into winter, then it’s time to prepare for basketball games or wrestling duals.
“A lot of long nights,” Tugaw said. “You know what? I loved it.”
Why? The students, naturally. Tugaw has always had a philosophy about teaching, and it carries over to athletics and activities.
“People ask me, ‘What do you teach?’ I don’t teach P.E. I teach students. I teach kids. You’re teaching kids, which is so much more than any subject.”
Earlier this week, this year’s students presented Tugaw with a large planter that they signed. (Tugaw loves gardening.) Through the years, when former students return, they often seek out Tugaw to say hello.
“As much as you think that you’ve made a difference in kids’ lives, they make a difference in your life,” Tugaw said. “They are the heart and soul of teaching.”
That, coming from the heart and soul of Hockinson High School.
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