Serna receives Jace Malek Award

SPOKANE, Wash. - The undefeated West Valley Eagles have everything it takes to make a run at a state title. They have the talent, the coaching, great team chemistry, and a man they call Serna.

Tim Barteni, or Serna as most know him, made his way to West Valley in 2011 when baseball coach Don O'Neil asked him if he wanted to help out.

“I got hooked onto it, I got hooked onto being a manager, being a person everybody counts on,” said Serna. “I never got to play sports as a kid so I figured why not help the sports that I never got to play.”

16 years later, and Serna is still here. 

“He's everywhere, he's at track, baseball, softball, volleyball, and football,” said West Valley football player Connor Whitney.

If there's a game being played at West Valley, it's a pretty good bet Serna is there, not to watch, but to work.

“He does everything from all of our equipment to laundry to setting up the field, getting us ready for practice. You name it, he does it,” said Whitney.

Serna volunteers all of his time, to be in every team meeting, at every practice, and of course every game day. All of game day.

Serna pours his heart into this school every day for free. What he gets in return though, makes everything worth it.

“I come walking down the hallway and everybody's high-fiving me,” said Serna. “Everybody's just like great job, great job, you're part of the team, you're part of the school here, you're the heart and soul of West Valley.”

“Timmy's just a great friend, he's a great friend to all of us, he's a friend to everyone he meets,” said Whitney.”

Everyone, including Jace Malek, who was like a brother to Serna. Gone, but never forgotten, Serna remains close to Jace Malek by flying his 99 flag.

Last May for Bloomsday, Serna took his flag downtown to honor his friend in a new way.

“I had some teammates that didn't think I was going to finish the 7.5 miles, and when I crossed that finish line I just kind of closed my eyes and I thought of him, just awesome, I was in tears thinking I wish he was here to see this.”

When Jace is watching, he will see his friend Serna at West Valley, continuing to make a difference.

“I just wake up in the morning and I know that there's a school that needs something, that needs help,” said Serna. “And that's me.”