Al Tircuit’s ‘wonderful life:’ Love for people, sports

No matter how talented you are as a writer, those skills can only take you so far.

A love of sports and the ability to make friends easily can sometimes carry much more clout. The life of Al Tircuit proved that point.

Family, friends, colleagues, coaches and sportswriters celebrated Tircuit’s life Friday night.

At its peak, it took mourners about an hour to pay their respects.

Tircuit died suddenly last week at 69. He primarily covered high school sports for about 50 years for several newspapers, including The Advocate and most recently the Livingston Parish News.

And Tircuit loved every minute of it. He loved it so much that few people realized it was actually his second job.

Turcuit worked for the Louisiana Department of Transportation for many years during the day and was a sportswriter by night.

Sportswriting, and really sports in general, were Tircuit’s passion.

In addition to writing, Tircuit was a fixture at LSU events, where he worked as a marshal. He also worked many Tulane, Sugar Bowl and high school events.

Longtime Morning Advocate prep editor Ted Castillo recalled the first time he saw Tircuit at a football game in the 1960s.

“I was in the press box at Baker High and there was this young guy working for the Baker Observer,” Castillo said. “And he was cheering for the Buffaloes. But the thing that really bothered me was that Tulane cap he was wearing.”

It was Castillo who got Tircuit started at the Morning Advocate. Tircuit kept statistics for Castillo, then started covering games and worked in the office on Saturday nights during LSU games.

Friends, coaches and sportswriters shared more stories like that Friday. Some of us laughed. More than a few of us cried.

“Al was a humble servant to all and a special person in LHSAA sports,” former Louisiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Tommy Henry said.

“He was just an all-around good guy.”

Regardless of where you saw Tircuit, you could count on one thing — his infectious smile. It won people over.

For me, that smile was often a reminder that this wasn’t just another day. It was a day when I got to cover a game, a track meet or some sports event.

It was all about sports and the people involved with them in Al Tircuit’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“To be able to do what he loved and support his family while doing it … that’s a good life,” said Tircuit’s wife, Maxine.

Indeed it was.