Evan Harlan Tustin, Wheatland-Grainfield/Grinnell High School is the 2016 “KSHSAA Spirit of Sport Award” winner. This award recognizes the values inherent in high school sports beyond winning and losing. KSHSAA Executive Director, Gary Musselman, invited all member high schools of the Association to submit the name of an individual, coach, or team demonstrating such qualities. Tustin was selected from nine outstanding nominations submitted by KSHSAA member senior high schools.
Tustin, a junior at Wheatland High School, has been active in football, cross country, basketball, track, student council and academically both in scholars bowl as a junior and has represented his class all three years in league academic testing.
Tustin started getting sick on February 7, 2015. His family doctor had been in contact with several specialists and ultimately the decision was made to send him to Children s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. It was determined that Evan had ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy).
The treatment for this disease is medicine and an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). As a result of his diagnosis, Tustin’s hopes and dreams of finishing his high school sports career in football, basketball and track were over, devastating news to a young man who loved to compete, and worked hard to be the best he could be in all three sports.
This past June, Tustin was released to start doing some light activity like golfing, walking, some lifting, but nothing with his left arm. He has started taking golf lessons so he can attempt to participate on his schools golf team in the spring of 2016. In the meantime, Evan has kept stats for the football team, and is a manager/motivator for the basketball team.
Tustin has also had to change his career path due to his heart disease, and the teachers at his school have been behind him a 100% to help him get the classes he needs to pursue an engineering career. What makes this story is the way Tustin has handled the whole situation. He is the only son of an only son on a family farm and ranch that goes back many generations which he has spent most of his childhood and young adult years prepping himself to return to that legacy. He no longer has that option. “Why Me?”, or simply being bitter would have been easy, but that has not happened. Instead he maintains his position academically among the top of his class and it could be argued he is more involved and invested in the sports programs than he was before his diagnosis. Instead of doing what he can to help his teammates on the playing area he is making them better by helping his coaches to make them better. Tustin is an inspiration to them and they work harder to show their appreciation for him and all that he has done.
Nine Kansas high schools submitted four nominations. Nominees include: Lindsey Hall, Cheer Coach at Wichita-Southeast; Paul McLenon, Public Address Announcer for Horton High School; The 2015 Central Heights Middle School Boys Basketball Team, from Central Heights Middle School; Bonnie Birzer, Cheer Coach at Council Grove High School; Hoisington School District; Boys Swim teams from Campus High School, Derby High School, Newton High School, Salina-Central High School, Salina-South High School and Great Bend High School; Alvaro Romo, student at Bonner Springs High School; Carter Wallace Howes, student at Blue Valley-North High School and Evan Harlan Tustin, student at Grainfield-Wheatland/Grinnell High School.
The KSHSAA Student Advisory Team participates in the selection of the state of Kansas honoree. “The unique way Kansas selects their State winners is without parallel. No other state association utilizes students as their selection committee,” said Executive Director, Gary Musselman. John Gills, NFHS Associate Director wrote to the KSHSAA Student Advisory Team, saying, “Thank you for the outstanding work you do to generate Kansas nominations for these NFHS Awards. You play a very important role in recognizing these very deserving individuals at the state and national levels.”
As the state honoree, Tustin will receive a plaque to be displayed at his school. The presentation of the plaque will take place at a KSHSAA tournament or local event that is yet to be determined. Wheatland-Grainfield/Grinnell High School’s winning nomination of Evan Harlan Tustin has been submitted for consideration by the National Federation of State High School Associations. The National Federation initiated the “NFHS Spirit of Sport Award” in 2008. The NFHS will announce a national honoree at its annual summer meeting in early July.