Photo by Scott Butler
Homewood Track and Field
Along with running track, Tucker Wilson plays the saxophone in the band at Homewood. Wilson was recently awarded one of the most distinguished regional awards a high school student-athlete can receive.
Tucker Wilson was recently awarded one of the most distinguished awards a high school student-athlete can receive; the Larry D. Striplin Jr. Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, as part of the Bryant-Jordan awards banquet held by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “Apparently, I was like the only one that didn’t know. All of my administrators and coaches and teachers all knew. It was a big surprise for me and an honor.”
Wilson beat out 51 other regional scholar-athletes to win the honor, originally nominated through the school. He has been a part of eight state championships on the cross-country and track and field teams during his time at Homewood High School.
“Tucker kind of embodies what that award is supposed to be about really,” Homewood track and field coach Tom Esslinger said.
Wilson does it all. He runs track, he plays the saxophone in the band, and on top of that, scored a perfect 36 on the ACT college entrance test — on his first try, no less.
He entered that first ACT test with no expectations. He had a limited amount of standardized testing preparation, and wanted to get started with a baseline score on the test, as many high school students take the test multiple times.
“I was pretty confident that I was going to score well, but I was really looking at it more as a jumping off point rather than a finishing point,” he said.
Wilson’s success in the classroom is only part of the pie, and it is a strong foundation that he can build from to excel in other aspects of life.
“That’s the first part of it, how strong he is academically,” Esslinger said. “He’s a good person and he’s been a great leader for us. He does his best at every workout. He’s reliable, dependable, and dedicated overall.”
The temptation to hold his intelligence over anyone is not even a second thought, as he fits in so well with a diverse group of people.
“I definitely see myself in a lot of different crowds, a lot of groups that wouldn’t really mix traditionally,” he said.
Esslinger said of him, “He gets along with everyone really well. Despite the fact that he’s smarter than everyone around him, you’d never know it, because he doesn’t come across that way. He’s never once been disrespectful to me. He’s a humble guy, he’s welcoming of everyone, he cares about everyone.”
The rise to having a successful running career at Homewood did not start with a bang. Wilson had no interest in running track in the seventh grade, but since he gave up swimming, his mom made him pick up another sport.
He figured track was the closest thing to swimming, but he hated running, So the first day of practice was interesting, to say the least.
“Instead of going out on a run, I hid in our gym bleachers,” Wilson said. “I sat in there for the whole practice and came back out (at the end).”
But he pulled it off. He went into the locker room and worked up a sweat before going home. Even though he had successfully avoided practice, he didn’t feel good about what had happened.
“Frankly, I was a little disappointed in myself. I had given up on something before it even started,” he recalled.
He would end up giving the sport a shot and, “the rest is history.”
“That moment sort of turned my life around… That moment showed me how rewarding it could be if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone a little bit. That’s when I started picking up band and involving myself more in some of those things I’d already been doing,” he said.
Wilson’s story was told through him winning the award, but that story is not finished yet. He will pursue engineering in college and somehow, some way, find a way to work it all into his schedule.
“I don’t know how he finds time to do everything, but he’s an impressive person,” Esslinger said.