By Dan McWilliams
Tony Hutchins never expected to be honored for his work with the Sacred Heart Cathedral School athletic department.
Mr. Hutchins, 47, who served as an intern at SHCS under athletics director Scott Barron, was recognized at the school’s athletics banquet May 11.
“It was a surprise and an awesome honor,” Mr. Hutchins said. “Just the recognition from Scott Barron — I worked about a year as his assistant, as an intern for him. He took the opportunity to recognize me as well. It was a banquet for the athletes there, and he surprised me with that. I had no idea that was going on.”
Mr. Hutchins, a 26-year veteran in the military, has a lot going on in his life. On the day after the banquet, he graduated from the University of Tennessee with a major in sports management and a minor in business.
And for the past two years, he has battled skin cancer, which has reached stage IV.
At Sacred Heart, Mr. Hutchins said his duties included “assisting the athletics director with getting the concession stand filled and stocked, running the scoreboard for the basketball games, lining and marking the fields, doing some scheduling for the different teams that we had there—anything that dealt with sports, I was assisting and doing it for Scott.”
Currently Mr. Hutchins is doing a summer internship with the Ripken Experience baseball facility in Pigeon Forge. His career goal is to serve as an athletics director or as an operations director for a single sport, either at an elementary school, high school, or college.
He is a sergeant first class in the Army Reserves who has served in Berlin; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Knox, Ky.; and Fort Lewis in Washington state. Mr. Hutchins also has two children: a son, 23, and a daughter, 20.
His skin-cancer battle is “still going,” he said.
“I thought I was clear. I’d been a year in remission and clear after surgery up until this past December,” he said. “That’s when we noticed a few more spots in my lung. I’m on a new chemotherapy drug to try and treat that.”
That battle is his main focus.
“It is. My goal was to graduate from the University of Tennessee, because I grew up in East Tennessee, in the Tri-Cities area,” he said. “Cancer is the main goal. If I don’t beat that … nothing else is going to happen if I lose that battle.”
Mr. Hutchins has a never-give-up attitude toward life.
“At this point, [cancer] has affected me some, as far as being a hindrance to my lifestyle,” he said. “It hasn’t kept me from doing too many things that I normally would be doing anyway.”
He’s not sure whether he will return to Sacred Heart but said he misses the school.
“I had a blast there — learned a lot, got to do a lot of things. I ended up substitute-teaching there some as well,” he said.
At the Sacred Heart banquet, an encouraging message from the head coach of Tennessee football, Butch Jones, was played for Mr. Hutchins.
“It was very touching,” he said.