Tim Derk, Spirit of Trinity Award
by Susie P. Gonzalez
When Tim Derk ’79 assumed the persona of the Spurs Coyote, he made $25 a game to jump around, walk on his hands, and otherwise entertain basketball fans, never dreaming it would become a full-time job. A mere 21 years later, he not only won the hearts of fans and players alike, but he also endeared himself to hospitalized children and the greater San Antonio community with his antics and loyal support of the city’s NBA franchise. In February, he will be honored with the Spirit of Trinity Award for his outstanding service to San Antonio.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration but had singing and acting talents. After graduating in 1979, he performed in community theater and sang Cole Porter’s song, “Be A Clown,” in a production. In 1983, the Spurs called his agent seeking advice for a team mascot, a new concept for sports teams. “Back then, we did it because we loved the game, and we loved performing,” Tim says. He developed a passion for the Coyote and agreed to continue as the mascot as long as it was fun.
He says Trinity prepared him for the mascot’s gig because a good school teaches you how to “take anything and make it into something.” To help create mystery about the Coyote, Tim wanted to keep his identity secret. He did so until an illness struck that robbed him of his balance and muscle strength.
His wife, Colleen, decided to make public his name in order to seek support from fans during his recovery. Although he is no longer the Coyote, the Spurs created a position for him as manager of mascot development. He oversees three mascots at the SBC Center – the new Coyote, T-Bone, a mascot for the Rampage hockey team; and Fox, who is mascot for the WNBA Silver Stars. Tim says he appreciates the Spurs for not showing him the door. “The Spurs are like Trinity,” he says. “We’re a small sports franchise. We are like family.”