In her 45 years as a secretary in the Waynesburg University athletic department, Barb Tuggle has assisted a program that’s produced a Final Four basketball team from its days in the NAIA, and several PAC championships in wrestling as well as women’s track and cross country. While she’s worked in athletics—and every other university department, for that matter— longer than anybody and has talked with more coaches than anybody else, Tuggle hasn’t witnessed many great moments of Yellow Jacket sports in person.
“I never attend any of the events because I don’t like crowds too much,” Tuggle said.
Tuggle is in her 50th year at Waynesburg overall after transferring to the athletic department after spending five years working in what is now known as Miller Hall.
Her responsibilities have changed over her years. Tuggle no longer has to worry about typing recruiting letters, as she did for former basketball coach and athletic director Rudy Marisa— who, like Tuggle, began his career at Waynesburg in 1969. Today, Tuggle’s duties consist primarily of scheduling departure times for road games, making sure all rosters are correct and seeing that officials for athletic events get paid.
Her office, located to the right of the main gym inside the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse, is easy to miss, and it’s interior is fitting for Tuggle’s personality.
There are no decorations on the walls, just pure, white paint.
While she works, Tuggle, a country music fan, likes to surround herself with music on WANB, and the soft, easy going rhythm is the background noise for her day.
While the secretary doesn’t go out of her way to be a star, she’s managed to make a significant impact on her coworkers.
“I told her,” head men’s basketball coach Mark Christner said, “when she leaves, she needs to tell me because I’m going to leave too.”
Tuggle’s describes herself as “quiet,” and she’s been that way since childhood. Her favorite activities growing up in Waynesburg—fishing and hunting— supporting her personality, as neither of which typically involves a large crowd. Tuggle rarely leaves Waynesburg, not even for a trip to Pittsburgh or Washington, because she said she doesn’t like the traffic.
“I’m comfortable in Waynesburg,” she said. “I don’t like the big cities.”
Tuggle tries to stay out of the public eye, and her job allows her to do so. She never had a “dream job” growing up— aside from helping others in some form. While she surrounds herself with some of Waynesburg’s most public figures, such as Christner and head football coach Chris Smithley, her work is done behind the scenes.
At the same time, Tuggle’s job directly impacts how the more celebrated members of the department can do theirs. For Christner, Tuggle is Waynesburg’s de facto “Director of Basketball Operations,” since that isn’t an official position.
“All the types of things that a Director of [Operations] would do, probably, she does,” Christner said. “So then [coaches] can focus on scouting and making sure our team is ready to play.”
Christner took over the program in 2010, when Marisa was retiring from the department. Because of Tuggle’s relationship with Marisa, Christner knew Tuggle was worthy of respect.
“She knows everything, and she knows when to do it, and she knows to do it without being asked to do it,” Christner said. “That just demands, I think your honor there.”
While Christner is best known on campus as the basketball coach, he is also Waynesburg’s assistant athletic director and its NCAA compliance officer. It’s in that field, Christner said, that Tuggle is the most helpful.
“I honestly could not do the compliance stuff without her,” he said. “From organizing rosters to helping with NCAA online forms, [she submits], those, gets them to the right people, helps me look over them before she submits them, all those types of things. In a lot of ways, it feels like [Tuggle is] my secretary, because the compliance is a big part of [athletics].”
Christner isn’t the only coach Tuggle has impacted. Head women’s basketball coach Sam Jones started at Waynesburg in 2008 and remembers how accommodating Tuggle was when the two first met.
Head wrestling coach Ron Headlee recalls Tuggle helping him with a project on his house and is fond of the snacks the secretary leaves on her desk that all are welcome to take.
“I can’t think of any [stories] that stick out, because we’ve just had so many conversations with Barb,” Jones said. “She’s someone I always make sure to say good morning to, she’s always very friendly with me. She makes a batch of homemade cookies, she’ll bring them and always make sure that I get one… She’s just super friendly and nice to see on a daily basis.”
For Headlee, Tuggle is somebody coaches can always turn to for help, regardless of how stressful their jobs can be.
“She’s willing to do anything for any of the coaches,” Headlee said. “She’s very personable… she’d just do anything for you and for the program.”
Tuggle isn’t sure when she’s retiring, but plans on working for a few more years depending on her health. Whenever Tuggle leaves, Waynesburg’s coaches hope her replacement is well prepared, as they will have big shoes to fill. When she decides to move on, Waynesburg will lose its longest tenured employee in any department, and somebody who has been there through five Waynesburg presidents, four athletic directors and many more head coaches.
“I’ve been here 11 years, and we’ve had three different athletic directors and one Barb,” Jones said. “And I really hope that she’s able to train her replacement because we’re going to be in serious trouble if she doesn’t.”
For Headlee, the athletic department won’t fully enjoy Tuggle’s work until she’s no longer doing it.
“To me, always, you don’t really appreciate someone until someone else takes their job,” Headlee said. “I think we probably don’t give her enough appreciation for all that she does do, then someone else would come into the job and we’d say ‘well Barb always…’ and things like that… She’s been under a lot of people for a long time.”
What keeps Tuggle motivated to work in that tucked-away office right by the gym where so many events that Tuggle has chooses to miss, is, much like her personality, straightforward.
“I like working, and I want to be able to do the job right. I guess that’s it.” she said.