Seaman senior Tim Biggs has the regular stresses of a teenaged kid.
Going through high school, getting ready for the next steps in life and not knowing what you’re supposed to do.
Golfing helps alleviate some of the stress for Biggs.
“Everyone’s saying you have all this time but really, there’s not much time,” Biggs said Wednesday before golf practice. “When I’m out on the golf course, whether good day or bad day, that stress just disappears. I love the feeling.”
That was almost taken away from Biggs when he was trampled by a steer on the family farm on Dec. 22, 2020, fracturing his eye, breaking his nose, breaking his jaw and cracking a couple of ribs.
Dec 22, 2020
Agriculture has been part of Biggs’ life since he was a kid. He’s president of Future Farmers of America at school and secretary of two 4-H clubs.
He’s shown steers, heifers, cows and basically anything there is to show.
“I’m always staying busy,” said Biggs. “I live on a farm, I go to sleep late and wake up early.”
On an unseasonably warm day a few days before Christmas, Biggs and his youngest brother Daniel Biggs, a sophomore at Seaman, were walking out their steers on a gravel road when Tim Biggs decided to take his hoodie off.
Tim Biggs’ steer had always been a docile animal up to that point so he figured he’d tie a knot around his waist with a few feet of slack so the steer wouldn’t wander off into the pasture.
But on that day the steer saw something and freaked out.
“Dog. Snake. Something. I still don’t know to this day,” said Tim Biggs.
The steer began running down the road, knocking Tim Biggs over and giving him road rash all over his back and stomach.
Still tied to Tim Biggs, the steer realized he was there, turned around and began stomping on Biggs, which caused the fractured eye, broken nose, broken jaw and cracked ribs.
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‘He tackled this 800-pound steer’
Growing up on a farm with a younger brother, older brother and two older sisters, Tim Biggs said he realized there were always going to be fun times, such as jumping on a steer and riding him around.
But, he added, you always know the risks going into those activities. Nothing like being trampled by a steer had ever happened on his family’s farm before.
Daniel Biggs, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs around 160 pounds, was about 100 feet away.
“Once I was on the ground, my little brother was walking his steer behind me and realized what was happening,” said Tim Biggs. “He tackled this 800-pound steer and put it in a chokehold, gave me enough time to get my pocketknife out and cut the rope.”
Daniel Biggs ran up to the steer, got a grip underneath the chin at the neck with his left arm and squeezed as tight as he could while keeping his head upward. While the steer jumped around a bit, it began to calm down.
“My dad always said when we were working with our bucket calves when we were younger, ‘If you control their head, it controls the body,'” said Daniel Biggs. “That really just helped me think about what to do, just hold his head up and he would stop moving.”
Daniel Biggs recalled it feeling like forever, but probably being closer to a minute, of holding the steer in place to give his brother the time to find his pocketknife and cut the rope.
“I just remember looking at him and just thinking, ‘Holy cow, this is really bad,'” said Daniel Biggs. “His face was just pouring blood, out of his eye and his nose.”
‘He obviously needs medical attention fast’
Daniel Biggs yelled for Patrick Biggs, their oldest brother, who was up at the barn a few hundred yards away.
Patrick Biggs realized something was wrong and arriving at the scene, knew he had to be the sane voice to help keep everyone calm.
“Tim was still making conversation, although it was scrambled, but I mean, he was still here with us,” said Patrick Biggs. “He was still conscious. My first thought was, ‘Okay, he obviously needs medical attention fast.’
“One of the clear indicators to me that something was seriously going wrong was, after I had gotten down there and I was helping Tim, Daniel was kind of just backing up and I mean, I could tell he was pretty scared. He saw Tim and saw what had happened to his face and I mean, that’s not a pretty sight ever to see someone you care about beaten up like that.”
Patrick Biggs had driven his truck down so quickly that a gas canister had fallen over.
But not knowing that, when Patrick Biggs was leading Tim Biggs to the truck, Daniel and Patrick Biggs both smelled gasoline and feared the gas line had been ruptured by a flying piece of gravel.
That led to Patrick Biggs calling their mom, Patti Biggs, who was up at their house.
Tim Biggs, understandably, was in shock.
“(Daniel) realized what was happening but at the time I didn’t, I didn’t feel any of the pain,” said Tim Biggs. “He just looked at me and said, ‘It’s bad Tim.’ I thought I could go home and slap an ice pack on it and be fine. But he got down on his knees and started praying because he thought I was gonna die. There was a lot of blood.”
Patti Biggs was working at home because of COVID at the time when she got the call from Patrick Biggs.
Once she got to the scene of the accident, Patrick Biggs pointed over to an area of grass and at that point, she thought it might be a prank.
“Tim sat up out of the grass and I thought he had like a Halloween mask on because his face was all bloody,” said Patti. “And then when I realized, ‘Oh, it wasn’t a mask. It was… He was really hurt.'”
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An early Christmas present
Patti Biggs kept her hazard lights and bright lights on throughout her roughly 10-mile drive to the hospital. She recalled looking in the rear-view mirror to see Tim Biggs sitting up from the back seat while asking how badly he was hurt.
“And you know, I just said, ‘Yeah, you’re hurt. And there’s lots of dried blood there. But when we get to the hospital, they’ll take care of you. There’s nothing to worry about,'” said Patti, pausing as she remembered the moment. “As we got a couple of miles down the road, he sat up and looked at his face again. He did ask if he was going to die.”
The assessment at the hospital was that nothing was super critical, but there was blood building up behind Tim Biggs’ eye, which led to his being flown via helicopter to another hospital for quick surgery on that eye.
“I was incredibly scared,” said Tim Biggs about waking up the next day. “I thought I was gonna be blind. I couldn’t open my eye. My mouth. Everything was so scary. I was thinking, ‘What if I won’t be able to golf again? If I can’t golf again, I can’t get a scholarship to college, If I can’t go to college, then I won’t have a good life.
“I’ve always been a resilient guy bouncing back from anything. But this was definitely the biggest challenge.”
Amazingly, Tim Biggs was home three days later by Christmas morning, an early Christmas present for the whole family.
“We had wonderful friends and neighbors who pitched in and took care of the other four kids that were here at the house,” said Patti Biggs. “The number of good wishes, prayers, cards, gingerbread houses, Christmas cookies, plants. Just the outpouring of love and support that we had from the community was phenomenal.”
Tim Biggs would show that steer twice, once in March and the other time at the Shawnee County Fair, before it was sold.
“Within 90 days, he was back in the show ring,” said Patti Biggs. “Watching him show, you could tell that he had some trepidation about showing that animal, but he’s resilient enough and determined enough that he did it.”
Getting back to normalcy and golfing
Returning home, Tim Biggs was confined to laying on the couch for about a month and a half, not being able to walk due to a sensitive blood vessel in the back of the eye.
This was all during the middle of COVID, so his schoolwork was all online. Tim Biggs has always been in honors classes and college classes as soon as he could, keeping good grades with mostly A’s and a B here or there.
But staring at a screen for that long while his eyesight was returning was tough, and he started to fall behind before his teachers realized what was happening.
His attention span was also affected. He found himself not being able to focus on things because he couldn’t see them clearly.
“Through all of that, he’s done it,” said Patti Biggs. “And we’re very proud of him for sticking with it. It would’ve been very easy to say, ‘I can’t,’ or ‘I need a timeout,’ or ‘I want a semester off,’ and I think he would’ve been warranted to do any of those things, but he didn’t. He kept pushing forward. He’s a pretty amazing, resilient kid.”
Despite other accidents to the same side on which his eye was trampled, including a baseball bat and golf ball to the face growing up, the vision has improved in that eye since the latest accident.
“It’s getting better but I think it will inevitably be worse than it was before,” Tim Biggs said of how his vision has been affected by having one eye constantly dilated. “What happened to my eye individually leads me to be more susceptible to future stigmatisms or blood clots.”
Back to the golf course
Golfing has been a part of Biggs’ life since the seventh grade when he began playing consistently.
His dad, Kent Biggs, used to be a marshal at Lake Shawnee and Tim Biggs said he fell more in love with the sport when he found the YouTube channel Good Good, a collective of friends who post golf content online.
After missing the rest of his swim season in the winter due to the injury, Tim Biggs incredibly returned for the spring 2021 season of golf, placing second at the city meet and ending the season as the No. 2 golfers on the team.
But it took some time, about a month and a half, to get his game back.
“I was back, but the game wasn’t back,” said Biggs. “I tried several times (before the season started) but not being able to see it really throws off your depth perception, only seeing out of one eye. I’d look down at the ball and think ‘it’s this far away’ and I ‘d top it or chunk it.”
Biggs put in the time, really wanting the season to be his year due to the fact that it was the last high school season colleges would be able to see his golf scores.
By the time senior season rolls around, Biggs said you need to have applied and been accepted.
“It felt great,” said Biggs on returning to the greens. “With that stress factor, and the golf course taking it away, I had a lot more stress than I thought was real. Almost to the point where I had none. It was just always, always there. I got so used to it, it felt like it was nothing but the golf course just washed it away.”
While his overall health is clearly the big picture, Biggs’ resiliency to get back to the game of golf, something that means so much to him, harkens back to him overcoming challenges placed in front of him.
“That’s one of the things that best describes Timothy,” said Patrick Biggs of his brother’s hard-working attitude. “You can knock him down 100 over again, and he’ll get up stronger and stronger each time.”
Two invitations into this season, Biggs leads the Seaman team with a 76.5 average.
He placed fourth individually at the Salina Central Invitational, where the team took first on April 4, and tied for eighth April 11 at the Manhattan High Invitational, where the team took sixth.
Contact Seth Kinker at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SethKinker