In October 2016, I interviewed Joe Tumpkin the day before the Oregon State game and wrote a piece titled Coach Joe Tumpkin: Practicing What He Preaches. During the interview he was a quiet spoken, cordial man very knowledgeable about the game of football and seemed like a very nice man from what I was told of him. The ironic aspect to this interview happening was it happened because I was introduced to Joe Tumpkin via social media from a simple acquaintance that I came to find out was the woman (let's call her "Paige) that was Tumpkin's lover/girlfriend and the woman that later would turn out to be the other side of Joe Tumpkin I had already seen pieces of on the football field.
On the field, you saw something different where Tumpkin's fire and passion would come out and be worn on his sleeve. There was the sideline confrontation with Coach MacIntyre during the 2015 Oregon game and the penchant to yell or scream during practice/games. The quiet demeanor of a grounded man had a switch flicked when it came to the sport he was passionate about.
Unfortunately, that same switch flicked for the woman he was passionate about and it led to nearly two years of domestic violence. The woman that loved Joe Tumpkin probably focused on the same things I saw in Joe in that short hour interview and ignored the fire that brewed within. Paige saw the man that was God fearing and raised by a woman of the Lord in Dr. Mary Tumpkin and the man I saw that offered you a beverage and friendliness that you don't always show someone that is a stranger. Most of all, Paige saw the man that she had fallen in love with over a year before he was hired by CU. Someone that had never laid a hand on her or showed the violence and "passion" on the football field towards her.
In February of 2015 Joe Tumpkin was hired by CU and Paige was there with him. During his time at CU, she had met with the other football staff members, members of the athletic department and was well received and part of the group of the coaches wives group. But over the course of those twenty plus months, Paige endured violence from Joe she had never seen before when their relationship formed and grew in Michigan. Violence came to Colorado with Tumpkin from a violent episode on her second visit to Colorado. The excuses and the cover up began that day and continued for nearly two years. While not every visit was violent, every episode of violence became more violent. And Paige's cover-ups for any evidence became greater.
Paige had told no one of the ongoing abuse. She lived with this burden for over twenty one months with the final episode occurring on November 20th, 2016. It was the morning after a night going out to dinner to celebrate the Washington State victory with Tumpkin and friends, Paige suffered her last forms of physical violence from Joe Tumpkin when she was violently dragged out of his place and thrown into the hallway being told to "Get the f*** out of here!" Paige rushed down to the lobby praying that was it. Unlike in the past, Paige didn't go back up when Joe reached out to her, she instead curled in a ball crying waiting for an Uber ride to the airport and had to wait nearly 10 hours for a flight out of town.
Don't confuse Paige for a weak woman. Paige is a strong minded, hard headed woman that covered for the man she loved. She comes from a background of helping people and trying to get the best from people. Paige sought counseling sessions for Joe to help try to end the violence, stop the bad habits of drinking and driving, and get Joe Tumpkin back to the man she fell in love with. In the end, the violence never ended and the passion for Paige snapped from Joe Tumpkin into another violent outburst with the counseling being of no assistance.
Paige is not a victim. In fact, she hates that word. She finds it to demean the strong woman she is and others are victims, not someone who let herself continue to deal with this violence. But the simple fact is Paige was blinded by her love of Joe just like many people are blinded by love of something/someone where we overlook the little things and even the biggest of things that shows that love is not a healthy and positive thing, but we find an excuse. The abuse, covering and excuses for Joe ended on November 20th when Paige returned home and finally told family and select friends of the abuse she had endured from the man she still loved from February 2015 to just the day before.
Paige went to the Broomfield Police Department on December 19th and spoke about the things that had first been made public by Mitchell Byars article on January 6, 2017 (Joe Tumpkin, CU Buffs assistant coach, named in domestic violence complaint). The Temporary Protection Order (TPO) had been set in place the following day on December 20th with the evidence from the report the Broomfield Detective took with hours of statements given and exact details and dates shared. Paige had decided she could protect herself by disassociating herself from this man, but she had to protect other women and give justice for what he had done to her and she had covered up. She couldn't keep quiet because she couldn't look her son in the eye and tell him the details of what she had endured without making sure he knew she wasn't going to make another excuse or cover up for Joe Tumpkin again.
The news broke by BSN Buffs Jake Shapiro on January 26, 2017 that Tumpkin was out at CU (SOURCES: Assistant coach Joe Tumpkin out at CU ) stemmed from this, the Permanent Protection Order (PPO) had been signed by both parties and approved by the Boulder County Judge. The signed PPO was what the University of Colorado Athletic Department found as just cause for asking for Joe Tumpkin's resignation. His contract was set to expire, but the University was not going to sit idly and just cover for Joe Tumpkin like Paige had done and wanted him out for his action. With the PPO, Paige had the protection for herself but the truth about Joe Tumpkin's violence towards her vindicated somewhat instead of being labeled some slighted ex. Having a violent man around young men is something the University could not justify and was also a major concern for Paige.
With all that she had dealt with, Paige still has her concerns for Joe. She worries about him finding another job, about his livelihood, his repuation, but most of all, she just worries about him. Paige wants Joe to get the real help he needed to lose the violence and not hurt someone else while being the great man and coach she fell in love with and still fights feelings of caring so deeply for. As someone that has met Joe Tumpkin and seeing the positives he has done as a coach and can do in life, I hope the same for him. Joe Tumpkin deserves a second chance elsewhere in coaching and maybe at a level he can deal with men would be a good start but first he needs to prove he is a changed man and has received the help he truly needs.
While Paige's PPO may not be the end of this journey and there may be more that comes of all of this, the one thing her speaking up did was show other women that you can't sit quietly and think even as a strong woman that you can help him on your own. The keeping each violent episode quiet over and over again isn't going to make things better but could lead to something really awful happening. So, speak up, because the repeated pattern of abuse will never end unless you speak up and separate yourself from that violence. Laying your hands on a woman is not forgivable, especially one that isn't trying to hurt you, but help you. While Paige may still love Joe and worry about his future, she also protected her own, the players Joe could have worked with and the potential victims in the future that may not have happened had she kept quiet.
There is never a good ending to domestic violence, but there is always a chance for both parties to live a better life by getting the help they need. Paige and Joe deserve a better life going forward, I truly hope they do.