A Living Legend

Coach Tuck has a passion for the game of baseball and for Samford University that is unlike one has ever seen.Coach Tuck

“He is a constant reminder of what true love and respect for the game and Samford really is,” senior pitcher Michael Gunter said. “He is a symbol of Samford baseball and still is one of the guys and part of the team.”

As a graduate of Howard College and a member of Samford’s Hall of Fame, Coach Gerald Tuck hasn’t missed a Samford home baseball game in 22 years. Through it all, Tuck has remained dedicated to both the University and the game of baseball.

“It looks like I was just meant to be here,” Coach Tuck said.

As a dual athlete in football and baseball, during his years at Howard College (1955-1959), Gerald Tuck earned his spot as MVP in football (2 years) as well as baseball (3 years). Tuck also served as the team captain for both sports.

“Going to play college baseball was not always in the plans,” Coach Tuck said. “After high school I went to Florida State on a football scholarship with baseball not really in mind.”

After two weeks in Florida, a knee injury and an offer by Coach Bobby Bowden, both Coach Tuck and Bowden moved from Tallahassee to Birmingham. After playing baseball for one year at Howard for Earl Gartman and football for Bobby Bowden, Tuck was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. An early injury temporarily prohibited him from continuing with his pro-ball career leading him back to Howard to finish his education and to continue with his passion, playing baseball and football. Tuck contributed to the baseball team as a talented outfielder who batted over .300 for his career.

After graduation, Tuck went to play for the Dodgers’ Class D minor league team. It wasn’t long until another injury crept his way that completely ended his athletic career. It was after his schooling and injuries ended that Tuck began his new occupation: coaching.

"A Living Legend"Tuck took his first coaching job at Minor High School in 1959. Later, he moved to Mortimer Jordan High School where he taught and served as head baseball and assistant football coach for 23 years. Finally, in 1985, Coach Tuck relocated to Tarrant High School, where he retired in 1990.

Not to long after retiring, Coach Tuck received an offer from Samford athletic director Steve Allgood. Tuck returned to his roots and assisted Samford head baseball coach Tommy Walker. Coach Tuck has been not only a baseball coach but also a life coach to many people in his lifetime.

“We grew up together, hunted together, played together. We’re practically family,” longtime friend and teammate, John Russell said. “I wouldn’t have gone to college if it weren’t for Gerald Tuck. He is one amazing person.” Going on his twenty-second year at Samford, Coach Tuck said he is “living the life of his dreams.”

A married man of 51 years to Loxcil Tuck and blessed with two children and four grandchildren, Tuck has a special place in his heart for Samford students.

“I love every student and athlete,” Tuck said. “I consider them my family.”

In return, the Samford baseball players admire and respect Coach Tuck. Senior pitcher Gil Walker and Tuck have a special relationship.

“Coach Tuck and I have known each other since I was born. Having him at practice everyday is always a joy,” Walker said. “He is constantly fixing something or telling stories from his playing years. The man is a legend around here and all the players love him.”Samford Baseball

“Coach Tuck is one of Samford baseball’s most notable alumni. He is well respected amongst the team and an asset to the program,” Samford baseball alumni and Red Sox draftee Andrew Jones said.

Coach Tuck continues to build a legacy at Samford. He is admired by each individual who has ever been a part of the Samford baseball program, and he wants the absolute best for everyone.

“There were many obstacles throughout my life. I attribute my success to the counselors who gave me great guidance along the way,” Tuck said. “Aside for my love of the game of baseball, I am here to offer guidance and support to this program and everyone who is a part of it.”

Ring by Spring

Most Samford students’ idea of a “ring by spring” is signified by an engagement ring to the man of their dreams. For the women’s volleyball, soccer and basketball teams, their rings signify something different. These girls accomplished success through grueling seasons of hard work and dedication to their sports and loyalty to each other by winning three different Southern Conference championships.

Samford SoccerSamford Athletic Director Martin Newton gave high praise to the women’s teams and talked about how they had really “raised the bar” for the athletic program. The excellent success they have shown is what Samford aspires to do in all of their programs.

Each team had a unique season with talented players that led to victory throughout the season and in the SoCon tournament. The Championships created a perpetual attitude of accomplishment, leaving the teams with an irreplaceable feeling of success.

What made these teams so successful?

“Chemistry is number one for sure,” Volleyball Head Coach Derek Schroeder said in regards to the successes of his team. “We have a lot of fun, but we have great chemistry.”

According to Soccer Head Coach Anthony Yelton, the philosophy of training and the revamping of the program were drastic changes.

“I’m very fortunate to have two quality assistants in Jay and Andy,” Coach Yelton said. “If you get the right kids then you always give yourself a chance.”

“Our team had a great sense of having each other’s backs,” Basketball Head Coach Mike Morris said. “This team was very close, probably as close a group as I’ve had, so they used that as a strength as we progressed in the season.”Samford Women's Basketball

Another key factor contributing to the success of the basketball team was the outstanding leadership from the four seniors: Jazmine Powers, Paige Anderson, J’Quita Babineaux and Ruth Ketcham. Being the most recent team to win a Southern Conference Championship, women’s basketball also made history by winning back-to-back SoCon Championships in 2011 and 2012. Winning prestigious championships two years in a row was extremely gratifying but exceptionally difficult. With the expectations not being there this year for the tournament, the team’s grand victory intensified more excitement.

According to Coach Morris, last season’s championship could be described as “emotional” while this season’s victory was described as “business-like.” The team knew that they had what it took to win, so they performed with confidence and utilized the skills they knew they possessed.

“I definitely think winning the second year is kind of hard to do and I think nobody expected us to do it,” Coach Morris said. “We lost two very good players, and we were seeded fourth going into the tournament, so I think this was more gratifying and satisfying.”

Coach Yelton marveled about how great the success of the women’s basketball team was and said he hoped that by the end of next season, his soccer girls could “do it again” as well.

“We want to set a high standard for our kids to get better individually and get better collectively because the task that we have in front of us is very daunting,” Coach Yelton said. “Nobody has won the SoCon tournament back-to-back in over 10 years, and we want to be the first to do it. We want to break that streak.”

Winning the SoCon was a very rewarding experience for the women’s soccer team because they were able to secure the victory after going undefeated in the conference. With a grueling schedule this season and one to look forward to next fall, the girls now realize what it takes to be successful, and they hope to continue that fulfillment into the next season.

Derek Schroeder, the women’s volleyball team became closely united through their chemistry together.

“Our team motto this year was ‘Together we’re strong,’” Coach Derek Schroeder said. “If at any point there were not 15 of us moving forward then there was something wrong. It lasted for four months and by the end of the season we were kicking butt and taking names.”

Samford VolleyballOne of the most impressive wins of the women’s volleyball season was against top-ranked Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs came out and surprised a rather large crowd of fans in September of last year.

“We went into Georgia Tech when they were getting votes in the top 25 and we warmed up by doing a Jane Fonda workout, just goofing off and having fun,” Coach Schroeder said. “And then we played loose and we beat them in front of a thousand people.”

The successes shown by these three women’s teams brings a great deal of honor and pride to Samford.

“We are a premiere division one athletic program, and we compete at the highest level, ”Newton said.

These three teams have proven that Samford wins championships and that they truly take the “ring by spring” adage seriously.

Where is home?

By Carson Pyles
 
Anna McKoy has no easy answer to the common question “Where are you from?”

McCoy pic

“I hate that question,” she said.

It’s hard to find a simple response for someone who was born in South Dakota and then moved to Wyoming followed by Japan, Germany, Hawaii, Dothan, Ala., and Birmingham.

McKoy, Brian Jackson and Daniel Broderick are three Samford students who share a similar trait. They have lived in a combined 24 cities around the globe.

Jackson pic

When Jackson’s dad switched from working for Pepsi to Coca Cola, the company had him moving all over the United States. Jackson, who has lived in eight states, said the hardest move he ever made was from a public school in Atlanta to a private school in Atlanta. They moved so frequently that in the Jackson family there was a joke that whenever their dad would say “I’ve got something to tell you,” Brian and his brother would say in unison, “Oh, we’re moving again.”

Jackson said as a kid he was jealous of his cousins in Connecticut who never had to move like he did. However, Jackson said he wouldn’t trade his upbringing for a “normal” one because it has prepared him for future life changes better than anything else could. He said meeting new people comes naturally for him. Graduating from college in May and starting afresh won’t be such a life-altering change like it is for most at the university. To him, it will be like a bump in the road as he keeps driving full speed ahead.

After the McKoy family moved to Germany as the Air Force told them to, McKoy’s dad started his new job on Sept. 10, 2001, not knowing that the following day would change everything.

“My dad was supposed to have kind of an easy job, but he ended up having a really intense job,” McKoy said. “He would go to work before I woke up and come back right before I went to bed.” “Sports were always a nightmare,” she said. “I couldn’t progress very far because I was changing coaches all the time.”

McKoy said that the next move was always looming in the back of her mind as a child, and she was at times bitter that her friendships were short-lived. But looking back, all the moving around was well worth it. McKoy said she is not finished traveling and wants to continue to experience new things. She said when you grow up like that, it becomes part of who you are.

“People with a background like mine, we’ll keep moving a lot,” McKoy said.

Broderick picBroderick doesn’t claim a hometown. “I’m an Air Force brat. So I’m not really from anywhere,” Broderick tells people. As a 14-year-old living in Alaska, the Air Force told them to get their things together and move to Japan. Then Broderick’s mother became sick, and Japan was no longer an option. A tiny town in Idaho was the conclusion that the Air Force came to for the family. Broderick said Idaho was not his favorite.

“It was the middle of nowhere,” he said. “A lot of tumbleweeds.”

On the other hand, he said he misses Italy every day. Broderick plans to continue his worldwide exploration after graduating, though he’s yet to decide on a country.

“I know that I do not want to stay in the United States the rest of my life.”

Broderick said while he respects people who live in one or two cities for their entire lives, it’s not for him.

“That lifestyle doesn’t attract me,” he said. “I really like all different cultures and all different languages. I consider myself extremely lucky.”

 

Photos by Staley Mcllwain