Buck Timmins -- a Mitchell resident and long-time South Dakota sports official -- died Monday after battling COVID-19.

William “Buck” Timmins began his officiating career in 1974 and later served as the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s statewide officials coordinator.

“It’s a tremendous loss and a terrible loss,” SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said. “We are certainly devastated and shocked by the suddenness of it.”

A 1966 Mitchell High School and 1971 Dakota Wesleyan University graduate, Timmins officiated both high school and collegiate events. He received a host of awards for his years of service, including the South Dakota High School Coaches Association official of the year, the NFOA Football Active Officials Award for South Dakota and the NFOA Section 5 Distinguished Active Official Award.

In 2010, he was the recipient of the Steve Withorne Memorial Award, which is presented in recognition of an athletic official's outstanding contributions and dedication to helping promote the development of officials. In 2011, he received the SDHSAA’s Distinguished Service Award.

But his impact extends beyond awards and accolades, said MHS Activities Director Cory Aadland.

“He wasn’t doing any of this stuff for the money and the glory or anything like that,” Aadland said. “He just wanted to give back. He enjoyed kids. He spent his entire life in education and this was just another way for him to continue giving back to high school sports and young kids.”

A former official himself, Aadland developed a strong relationship with Timmins and also worked a couple high school football games with him. Aadland praised Timmins for his ability to be patient when teaching his craft.

“He’s always willing to help people out to talk through situations and plays,” Aadland said. “He was kind of one of those quiet, behind-the-scenes-types of guys. He did so much for a lot of people around the state.”

Timmins’ passion for local sports followed the lead of his father, William “Bill” Timmins, who supported Kernel sports and for whom the MHS Fan of the Year Award is named. Similarly, Buck was a nearly constant presence at local high school and college sporting events for decades.

Timmins also served on numerous committees and penned a regular SDHSAA newsletter to officials. Since 1993, Timmins wrote football mechanics material for football officials meetings. He has served as a football rules clinician for the SDHSAA since 1998. His career also included teaching at Avon and Parkston, and coaching basketball, football, track and field and cross country.

“If you’ve gone to a sporting event in the last decade-plus in South Dakota, Buck Timmins had a direct impact on how that event was played out and to be sure it was done so fairly and justly for everyone involved,” Krogstrand said. “We will do what we can to replace it but certainly there’s no one person or no one individual that will be able to step in and do what Buck did for us.”

His impact extended beyond the state, too. He also worked with the National Federation of State High School Associations on officiating mechanics in football. Away from officiating, Timmins was involved in helping host the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament in years in which the Mitchell Baseball Association was hosting the event.

“His impact is still being felt nationwide on policies that he helped develop and procedures and educational tools,” Krogstrand said. “Buck had a hand in all of those things. … It was just simply amazing to see the reach and to see how many other states were picking up and using our stuff because Buck had a hand in it.”