Eye on KELOLAND: Scotty Briggs’ community

Eye on KELOLAND

A lot of people are staying home as best they can right now to stop the spread of the coronavirus. That includes a well-known member of the Sioux Falls community, Scotty Briggs.  Briggs, who has Down Syndrome, is a fixture at Roosevelt High School sporting events and Special Olympics competitions.

Right now, he and his family are figuring out how to stay busy from the comfort of their own house.

We’re all facing new challenges these days and that’s no different for 25-year-old Scotty Briggs. He’s doing speech therapy for the first time this week on an iPad.

“Typically they come to our home and they have a great session twice a week but that’s all changed now,” Julie Briggs said.

Scotty’s mom Julie Briggs says it’s change that her son seems to be embracing.

“Oh, I can’t even explain to you how important this is. It’s the one thing that’s stayed consistent for him. That he gets to interact with somebody and still get his therapies. So that’s been wonderful,” Briggs said.

We’ve followed Scotty’s story for years, back to when he was Homecoming King at Roosevelt High School and before that. He graduated in 2014 but still attends the school’s athletic events every chance he gets because of his love for sports.

“Hmm, football, basketball, volleyball,” Scotty said.

Mitch Begeman is the Rough Riders boys basketball coach.

“Ever since I’ve been a part of Roosevelt, Scotty Briggs has been a part of Roosevelt basketball as well,” Begeman said.

Even though he’s no longer a student…

“He doesn’t miss a beat. He doesn’t miss a game. We love having him there. He sits in between the two benches at the scorers table. He’s kind of like our ball boy and he loves it,” Begeman said.

Roosevelt qualified for the state basketball tournament this year but sadly the event hasn’t happened because of COVID-19.

“Unfortunately yeah, we made the state tournament. We were lucky enough to do that. Our plans kind of got halted for a little bit here due to the virus going on. We’re still holding out hope. If we do get to play this, Scotty Briggs will be right there with us and supporting us along the way,” Begeman said.

The two are so close, Scotty texts him regularly using his iPad.

“Sometimes I’ve seen that Scotty has texted him late at night and we’ve tried to talk to him and say, yeah probably don’t want to text him after we go to bed. Not a good time to text coach. But that is his outlet and that is his way to be able to communicate to coach because he loves coach and he misses him when he doesn’t see him,” Briggs said.

“He just kind of brings that positive vibe out in you. No matter if you’re having a bad game or a bad practice, if you see Scotty Briggs, he kind of brings that positive reinforcement to you. No matter what, if Scotty’s there, it’s going to be ok,” Begeman said.

Reinforcement we could all use right now. Scotty’s also a Special Olympics athlete and would be swimming and practicing track and field each weekend if he could.

“Scotty is a creature of habit and a creature of consistency. He absolutely knows that in the spring, this is what we do. It’s not happening now and yesterday was the first day that it really hit him hard that none of this was happening,” Briggs said.

Holsen: Does that make you sad to not be able to go swimming?

Scotty: Yeah. 

Holsen: Are you going to be pretty excited once this is all over and you can go do Special Olympics?

Scotty: Yeah.

“Sometimes it can be sad thinking about, especially with Scotty and all of our athletes at Special Olympics and what they must be feeling and going through because it’s such a change from what we all know,” Briggs said.

Scotty and his family hope are praying it’s a change that doesn’t last long. When the all-clear is given, this crew can’t wait to get back out there.

“We will celebrate. We will definitely celebrate and for Scotty, it will just be being able to go out and be a part of the community and doing all the things that he loves,” Briggs said.

“He has surprised us through all of this and it’s just been challenging but at the same time, we’ve learned a lot about each other and what we can handle,” Briggs said.

Since graduating from Roosevelt, Scotty has taken part in programs through the Sioux Falls School District and Augie Access at Augustana University. He currently works for the University’s Theatre department on weekdays but is staying home during the pandemic.

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