Coach Tierney’s heartfelt anniversary

Coach Tierney’s new heart has now been pumping for seven strong years


Coach Tierney

Coach Sean Tierney wasn’t feeling well and didn’t really think too much about it.

When he came back from his mission trip, the expected explanation was a bacteria disease he picked up, but when he went to the doctors, he found he had a weak heart.

The doctor told him that millions of people suffer from weak hearts and with how young and active he was, it shouldn’t be a problem. He was prescribed medicine along with staying active. The only problem was, weeks after the diagnosis he still wasn’t feeling any better.

So he went back to the doctor and when they couldn’t figure it out, they sent him up to the Cleveland Clinic. What they found there was that his heart was deteriorating and that he needed a new one – or he would die.

It took one week to find a new heart. Since then, it has been seven long, wonderful years for Christian Lifestyles teacher Sean Tierney.

Mr. Tierney, who is usually referred to as Coach, received his heart transplant seven years ago on January 20, 2007, and he hasn’t forgotten his near death experience, and never will.

“It was obviously scary, I was bummed out,” he said. “Number one you never know if the heart was going to adapt to my body or not and number two was what if I leave my wife? What if I never get to meet my child?”

The way he acts though, one would never make an assumption that he had such an experience. His energetic attitude keeps his spirits high as well as his students awake. He shows passion when he teaches and coaches, a trait that doesn’t always come with every teacher.

You can find him in the weight room with the volleyball team as well as the on the slopes at Perfect North Slopes as he is also the Ski Club moderator.

“I have always been a passionate person, but certainly things have become more important to me,” Tierney said. “I have become more emotional, I have tasted death and I am lucky to have bounced back from that. I appreciate the little things in life a lot more.”

Coach Tierney has now taught at Elder for 17 years. He has taught Church History for his entire career until this year, when he took over the recently retired Mr. Laake’s Christian Lifestyles.

With this being only his second semester teaching Lifestyles, he said it is a learning experience for him as well as his students.

“This is my first year teaching Lifestyles, it is an opportunity for us both to learn what does and what does not work for years to come,” he told our class the first day of the second semester.

He is now entering his eleventh year as head coach for the varsity volleyball team. Under him, they have won two state championships in 2008 and 2010 along with state runner up this past season and in 2009. Tierney’s program is highly regarded in the state and considered a power house.

“[This year] we are going to be strong, we grew a lot as a team last year and we were young,” Tierney said. “We finished big last year and have lots of seniors coming back. We have a lot of talent in the junior class. On paper we have a strong team. We just need to prove it.”

The past seven years have brought nothing but good fortune. Seven years ago when that wild ride started he was in his first year of marriage with his wife Robyn as she was six months pregnant with their oldest son. They now have three children, Tommy, Teagan and Taryn, who are age six, three, and two, respectively. They attend St. Teresa grade school.

“We just do normal family stuff, we go sled riding in the winter. My son and I watch a lot of XU basketball. You know, just normal family things.” Tierney said.

Coach Tierney lives a comfortable life now and has not run into any subsequent heart problems. He takes pills two times a day in order to insure his heart accepts the transplant. His new heart has been pumping for seven strong years and it will for years to come as he continues to bring state championships and passionate teaching to the Elder community for years to come.