Braced in faith, memory

Senior pays daily tribute to fallen friend with bracelets, philosophy about life

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Jacob Garcia

On one of his wrists, two bracelets are rooted in his faith and the memory of a friend who died too young. “What I have gone through has made me stronger and able to grow as a person and shape the way I am,” Tschoepe said.

Daniel Lackey and Dylan Smith

With two wrapped around both of his wrists, wearing bracelets is how senior broadcast producer Tim Tschoepe keeps a couple of his values close to heart: his faith and his memory of a close friend who passed away four years ago. 

“I wear the[m] everyday,” Tschoepe said. “It has become part of my morning routine to put them on.” 

The ones on his left wrist represent the sacramental progression of his Catholic upbringing, one of which features an Ichthys (or fish) symbol to mark his First Communion as a second grader, while the other (in all caps) reads “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly” in remembrance of his Confirmation sophomore year. 

The two on his right wrist, though, blare their own quotes in homage to his late friend, Sophia St. Amant, who passed away their eighth grade year as a result of an ATV accident: “Sing for Sophia” and “LLS [Live Like Sophia] Fly High Sophia Rose.”

“Live Like Sophia St. Amant” is the message Tschoepe aspires to stand by day after day. Photographer: Tim Tschoepe

“Everything is a story,” Tschoepe said. “I like having a story about everything so [that] when people walk up and ask why I [have them], I can tell them and not just be like, ‘Oh, because it is cool.’ I wear them to think, ‘Yeah, I’m sitting in class, and yeah, I’m driving, and I’m going to games, but she is doing [them], too.’”

Tschoepe remembers being a “little dude with glasses” and acquainting himself with Sophia in their seventh grade ELA class at Smithson Valley Middle School. From there, they always sat next to one another, and their friendship grew as the year went on.

 He remembers entering school one Monday morning, April 3 (his birthday), to take test corrections, unaware of what happened to her that weekend. He remembers seeing grievers surrounding the school’s flagpole. He remembers one of his teachers telling him the reason for the occasion, his friends wondering about his well being when he found out. He remembers leaving his classroom to call his dad about the situation. Tschoepe could have gone home, but he chose to stay at school for the distraction. As he resumed his day, he had a revelation that, for him, solidified personal commitments that he upholds—and will uphold at Texas Tech University this fall.

What I have gone through has made me stronger and able to grow as a person and shape the way I am,” Tschoepe said. “There are people in worse situations and worse places than I am. [When they are having a tough time], I look at it as letting me make [them] smile on that day because you never know when they won’t be there.”

— Tim Tschoepe

 “I look at that day as a decision that I would live everyday as if she was here,”  Tschoepe said. “I would live every day that she would [by being] the most energetic [person, and to] make sure I make everyone smile and make everyone happy. I’m still that way today.”

His reminder of Sophia, however, goes beyond school and the bracelets; Tschope honors her when he is playing baseball as well by writing messages on his arm—messages related to Sophia. The weekend following her accident, for instance, he wrote “Live Like Sophia” on his left arm in preparation of a baseball tournament. He also attached a letter “S” to his chest, which was met with confusion from his teammates (they thought it stood for “Superman” at first). Those customizations have since become tradition, and he even did it for another friend who passed away later on.

“In that tournament, I went six for eight, and if you follow baseball. you know you can’t get a hit every time,” Tschoepe said. “I was hitting pitches I hadn’t ever hit before. I knew the pitcher had a nasty wipeout curve ball and I didn’t know how to hit a curveball, but I hit a double. It is still my best tournament, and I [attribute] that to her.”

His ambition to always keep the memory of his friend alive by being a compassionate and kind person to whomever he comes across is of the utmost importance to him, even if it means that he has to hide his true emotions.

“What I have gone through has made me stronger and able to grow as a person and shape the way I am,” Tschoepe said. “There are people in worse situations and worse places than I am. [When they are having a tough time], I look at it as letting me make [them] smile on that day because you never know when they won’t be there.”