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Oh, baby! What a day for Brandon football coach

Brandon High School head football coach Tyler Peterson had a busy day with the arrival of his daughter and his first football game.
Brandon High School head football coach Tyler Peterson had a busy day with the arrival of his daughter and his first football game.

By Mike Christensen

On the list of days he’ll never forget, Aug. 21, 2015, would have to rank way up there for Brandon High School football coach Tyler Peterson.

He rose early, crashed late. In between were moments of great anxiety punctuated by great joy. His adopted daughter arrived from China, hours later than expected but hale and hearty. His new team won its first game, kicking a last-second field goal to do so.

“It was a busy day … a lot going on,” Peterson said a few days later, sounding as if he were still drained from the experience.

Peterson managed to see both the plane land and the game kick off, though it was a bit of a crunch and required an assist from one of Brandon’s finest.

The plane carrying his wife, Erica, and new daughter, 1-year-old Evie Joy, landed at Jackson-Evers International Airport at 6:15 p.m. Kickoff for his first game as coach of the Bulldogs was set for 7 p.m. at Louis Gene Strickland Field.

What Peterson needed was a timeout. But in real life, we don’t get those.

“I saw my wife and daughter off the plane, hopped in a cop car and made it to the field in time to give the pregame speech,” Peterson said. “It was a rush, rush deal. It’s about a 15-minute drive or so from the airport. We did it a little quicker than that.”

Erica Peterson had gone to China a couple of weeks ago as part of the long process of adopting a child from that country.

The Petersons have two sons, Camden and Case, ages 4 and 3.

Tyler Peterson said adopting a daughter from China was “just something my wife had a calling to do.”

“She started thinking about it a while back,” he said. “She has some friends who had done it. We’re blessed to have two healthy boys. We thought we would reach out and help someone who is not as fortunate.”

Tyler Peterson said he was simply too busy preparing for the season to break away and take a trip to China. A friend accompanied Erica.

“I saw my wife and daughter off the plane, hopped in a cop car and made it to the field in time to give the pregame speech,” Peterson said. “It was a rush, rush deal. It’s about a 15-minute drive or so from the airport. We did it a little quicker than that.”

“This time of year is so busy for a coach,” Tyler Peterson said. “The start of the season with a new job, I don’t know if you ever catch your breath. You’re living on caffeine, trying to grab a nap here and there.”

Added to that was the anticipation of a new daughter.

The plane bringing Erica and Evie Joy home was originally scheduled to arrive at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. But delays along the line kept pushing the time back, closer and closer to kickoff against Ocean Springs.

“My wife and I were texting back and forth all day,” Peterson said.

Peterson informed his players of the situation at the pregame meal Friday afternoon.

“I told them I’d get there (for kickoff), but I wasn’t sure if I could,” he said. “But the coordinators I’ve got have been here for five years or so. It’s a veteran staff, guys that have been head coaches. I don’t worry when I can’t be there. Those guys can be trusted to do the job.”

Still, when it’s your first game with a new team, at your home field, with a big crowd on hand, you don’t want to miss any part of it. And you certainly want to win.

“It was a nail-biter for sure,” Peterson said. “It turned out great. The guys fought hard and pulled it out. I was pleased.”

Up next is a trip to Madison Central, always a tough game. But the Jaguars aren’t getting all of Peterson’s attention. At home, there’s the suddenly expanded family and little Evie Joy, commanding attention, too.

“She’s doing great,” Peterson said. “She’s clinging to Mommy pretty tight right now. She’s getting acclimated to me and the boys. They can be a little rough with her.

“But, hey, they’re all home, safe and sound. Everything is good.”