After a week in which a football field was nearly set on fire and fists flared after the first Friday of football, it was time for a feel-good story.

Enter Santa Fe Indian School head volleyball coach Brian Gurule.

Gurule’s act of kindness came Saturday during an SFIS volleyball scrimmage, and the recipient was a good friend of his — Raton head volleyball and softball coach Tinabeth Dorrance. Dorrance’s husband, Robert Dorrance, died suddenly from a lung illness July 1, and the ensuing weeks were trying for Tinabeth as she and her family dealt with the loss.

A couple of fundraisers helped the family with funeral costs and medical bills, but Gurule wanted to help in his own way, since the two of them knew each other from when she was an assistant coach at Raton and he coached at West Las Vegas.

“She is an incredible person,” Gurule said. “I’ve known her for a very long time and coaching has really helped her [through this period].”

Gurule thought about doing a fundraider when Raton comes to the Lady Braves Pink Classic next month or perhaps when the two District 2-3A teams play during the season. He decided that the scrimmage was the perfect option, given how many teams came (19) and that it wouldn’t really interfere with the warm-up or preparation for a regular season tournament or match.

So, around midday of the scrimmage, Gurule stopped play and had people who wanted to help Dorrance and her family come to the court and drop off their donations in a blue blanket. Gurule didn’t count how much money his simple gesture made, but he was amazed by the open hearts players, coaches and spectators showed.

“I saw a lot of 100s [$100 bills] and a lot of 20s,” Gurule said. “Then, my girls presented her with the blanket and the money. It was very emotional, but it was really awesome to help a friend out.”

While Gurule didn’t want to make a big deal about his action, a video by Stevie Medina, a Raton resident, caught the moment as dozens of people did their part to help coach Dorrance and he posted it on Facebook.

“I was truly humbled… ,” Medina wrote on his page, “but what you don’t know is how much you all blessed Coach in an incredibly difficult time.”

While Dorrance did not respond to a message asking her to talk about that moment, she used Facebook to express how she felt about a wonderful moment amid her struggles.

“My cup runneth over with emotions and so much gratitude for the kindest gestures from all involved in my life!!!” Dorrance wrote. “You all have made my very broken heart feel a little better!!”

If you want to help, the GoFundMe page Medina created for the family is still active and accepting donations at

After the week that opened the prep season in Northern New Mexico, it’s refreshing to know that sports can still be a powerful tool for good.

James Barron writes an opinion column about sports in New Mexico. Contact Barron at 505-986-3045 or