I have been very fortunate, over my almost 17-year career in education, to know all kinds of great young adults with many talents. They all have a special place in my heart. However, Brian Ernst has made a lifelong impression on me in the last eight years. He is intelligent and athletic, all the attributes that a former coach like myself gravitate to. Because of his physical prowess, he was literally the big man on campus.
Brian had many great things physically going for him in his life. I could go on and on about those many physical talents, believe me. He was very good at any athletic event, baseball especially. But it’s not those that have made such a lifelong impression on me as much as it is his ability to always put others first.
I have tried to speak in present tense because Brian still speaks to me today even though I can’t hear him. You see, Brian took his final breath on this earth three years ago today when he died of cancer (Ewing’s Sarcoma). I have missed him every day since. My life has changed because I was able to get to know the other side of Brian Ernst, not just the athlete.
Brian’s ability to put others first was truly a God-given ability. When he was at his worst physically, I would talk with him to comfort him and when I left he made me feel better. He would do that with his parents, friends, and some of the world’s best athletes who would visit him. He IS an amazing young person.
It is my hope that people everywhere have had or will have someone who influences them in the same way. I still have many, but Brian Ernst was one-in-a-billion. I am forever a coach and it was my job to make you better but every day you continue to make me better! Thank you Brian for blessing me.
Scott Justus is the athletic director and an assistant principal at West Hall High.