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Column: Chance Tucker shows how to become success story in a time of COVID-19

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VIDEO | 01:50
Chance Tucker finds success during pandemic

The Crespi athlete is Notre Dame bound

Chance Tucker’s braids resembled flapping wings as his head moved back and forth while running on the Encino Crespi football field. He looked fast, fit and comfortable during a time of uncertainty in the sports world.

COVID-19 has disrupted the routine of teenage athletes everywhere. Seasons have been delayed, goals put on hold, and plans revised.

If any athlete has found a way to move forward, it has been Tucker, a 16-year-old senior cornerback with a 4.2 grade-point average.

“I feel everyone is going to need to adapt just as they did when this whole quarantine happened, and it’s really up to them to stay on top of themselves,” he said.

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Before the track season was halted in March, Tucker ran 10.97 seconds for 100 meters in his first race. He also ran a personal best of 22.14 in the 200 meters in his only other track meet. The combination of his grades, proving he had speed and being 6 feet and 170 pounds made him a sudden hot commodity among college recruiters unable to make campus visits.

“I feel I was able to impress a lot of people, especially given it was my only race,” Tucker said. “I feel they were able to see my full potential.”

Tucker also took advantage of recruiters having extra time to speak to him on the phone through FaceTime or Zoom calls.

“He’s such a humble, high-character kid,” Crespi coach Dameon Porter said. “What the coaches got is having more in- depth conversations and what type of person he is.”

Tucker displayed his friendly personality and made it clear academics counted as much as athletics.

“I’ve always held high regards to education,” Tucker said. “It’s the ways I’ve been raised by my parents. I’m never going to slack in the classroom and try to do my best on and off the field.”

When classrooms closed and campus workouts were halted in March, Tucker and his father bought a set of weights and turned their garage into a workout area.

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Tucker grew up in Encino, not far from Crespi. His father played football at Pasadena Muir. Tucker was a receiver at Crespi until Porter decided cornerback could be his best position.

“Chance came in thinking he was receiver, but we moved him to cornerback because of his ability to run and his length,” Porter said. “He’s blossomed in the last year.”

Said Tucker: “I love it. I didn’t know how it was going to work out at first. I just had to trust the process. I love being able to be man on man and lock kids up.”

Committed to UCLA since he was a freshman at Burbank Burroughs, junior Lincoln Melcher won the Callaway Junior Golf Championship earlier this month.

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On July 22, Tucker announced he committed to Notre Dame. It was proof he found a way to make the most out his time during adversity.

“You’re getting a kid who’s a can’t-miss prospect,” Porter said.

School begins Aug. 31. Football practice begins Dec. 14. The first game of Tucker’s senior season is Jan. 8.

All those dates could change. What’s clear is that Tucker knows how to embrace uncertainty and find a way to succeed.


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