This editorial was written by Joe Soriano, who is the play-by-play man on AM 1220 KHTS for all of the College of the Canyons football games. Soriano has known Coach Garett Tujague for close to 15 years:
In 1997 I was invited along with KHTS’ Barry McKeever, to be a part of the College of the Canyons’ Football Feasibility Committee. Our job was to determine if the Community would support the reinstatement of the COC Football program after a 17 year hiatus. The answer was a resounding yes.
The program started anew in 1998, with Barry and me calling Cougar home games. Before the season, Head Coach Chuck Lyon introduced me to his new offensive line coach, Garett Tujague.
Today, almost 15 years later, I had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with Coach Tujague as he prepares to continue his career as a Cougar, where it started as a Cougar, in Provo, Utah at BrighamYoungUniversity. The fact that he honored our lunch with all the other things he probably needed to be doing says a lot about him.
Starting from Day 1 with Chuck Lyon and continuing the past 6 seasons with Coach Tujague, I have been treated as one of their own, a Cougar, even when I asked them to take it easy on my alma mater Santa Barbara City College. I enjoyed watching Coach Tujague roam the sidelines for 9 seasons as Coach Lyon’s top assistant, sometimes as his headphone “cable guy” at away games.
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Tujague was energetic and inspiring as he helped the program win several conference championships and of course the 2004 National Championship, giving me a huge bear hug after I had the privilege of calling the game.
When Coach Lyon stepped away from coaching to lead the entire sports department as Athletic Director, there really wasn’t much question who his successor would be, the job was Tujague’s. He was so fired up to take the reins and won 43 games in 6 seasons, 5 Bowl Game invites, a Conference Championship and a Coach of the Year Award. Those numbers, however, do not tell the whole story.
Coach Tujague, like Coach Lyon a dedicated family man, really made his presence felt. He consistently notes there is not a more supportive football wife than his, Cami (They met at BYU) I don’t recall ever calling a game where she wasn’t sitting below me in the stands at midfield, 100 degrees or 40, it didn’t matter and always with an eye on their 3 kids.
The Cougar Youth Football Camp was always a big hit with kids all over the Santa Clarita Valley. The Cougar staff clinics were a great way for local high school and youth coaches to get an understanding into what made the Cougar program successful year after year. He is the only coach to be on staff for the 15 years since football returned in 1998.
He allowed my son to be a ball boy for close to 6 seasons and he loved it, thanks Coach. As Garett did, the coach selected to replace Coach Tujague will have the benefit of having the winningest coach in Cougar history, Chuck Lyon, down the hall but it is not about filling shoes of the previous coach, it is about continuing the great Cougar football tradition that Coach Lyon built and Coach Tujague continued with class and integrity. I am unabashed about being a Cougar homer during our broadcasts, it is tough not to be when you have built friendships like the one I have with Coach Tujague.
I will miss our talks during the off season, at practice and before games, often about things other than football. I will miss his great enthusiasm for his Cougar players and coaches and I will miss his presence as the Head Coach of Cougar Football. I would hear him preach “Attitude & effort, the only 2 things we can control” and use it as a coach of my son’s youth team. I am very happy for Garett and his family, this is a great opportunity for them to return to a place that has a special place in their hearts. He told me today “Being the COC Head Coach is the greatest job.”
Will the program have continued success? I have no doubt. Will Coach Tujague be missed? Again I have no doubt, but at least he doesn’t have to change his voice mail greeting that says “It’s a great day to be a Cougar.” We wish nothing but the best for Coach Garett Tujague and his family.
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