By Brandon Speck
Outfielder Harley Tucker is carrying a load for Nettleton’s Lady Tigers. After 14 games, she was hitting a team-high .486 with 18 RBIs. She has five doubles, six triples and a home run.
But the 5-foot-6 junior is shouldering a bigger load than people see on the field.
Tucker is fresh off a gold medal win in Saturday’s MHSAA state powerlifting meet. She finished third last year.
Nettleton coach Dana Rhea speaks highly of her for another accomplishment, her leadership.
“The most obvious thing I’ve seen is her attitude is just awesome,” said Rhea, whose team is 12-4. “She’s done a fine job stepping in and trying to be a leader for the younger ones.
“Her offense this year has been phenomenal and her defense has improved so much that you can really see the desire to be that leader.”
Tucker concurs. She says her growth as a player and as a lifter has been less about the game and more about learning to lead.
At one point, she was one of the younger ones, with the team since sixth grade, watching from the beginning the six-year run of state title series – three wins. She wasn’t just watching and wasn’t just learning how to play.
Pointing the way
“Leadership is the main thing. Being there since I was a manager, you learn from the older ones,” Tucker said. “I just would like to follow in the older one’s footsteps and keep winning state championships and making it there.”
At Mississippi Coliseum, she took first place with an 875-pound total. That number included a 375-pound squat, 150-pound bench and 350-pound deadlift. Only three lifters in Class II totaled more.
“I finally realized that I’m the one that actually has to step up and take the full responsibility of being a leader,” she said, “instead of having to follow.”