When I first met the large one on the right, he was but a wee lad wearin’ a Cardinal helmet.
“Wee” is a relative term.
‘ Cause Tuck was a “tweener”.
An athlete with the skills to carry and catch the ball. But housed in the lanky frame built for the sweet science of the OL.
And with that wee lad growing like a weed from one season to the next, the trek to shed #23 those Saturday mornings became the constant of his pregame ritual.
For #42 always seemed to be just one breakfast away from being #72.
Undeterred, “Tuck the tweener” persevered, worked hard and finally found his stride during the 9th game on the big field his 8th grade year.
The “click” that night was audible.
In this author’s estimation, what happened during that game wasn’t so much that the football light went on.
But more so, that wonderful moment every coach longs to witness:
When aspiration meshes with ability.
The instant a kid gets a taste of what it is like to play as they always imagined.
Perhaps that light was dimmed a little his freshman year as he found himself stationed at the LOS rather than running through it.
And with him still growing like a weed, maybe the prospects of another four seasons as “Tuck the tweener” did not mesh with his true aspirations.
Tennis runs wide and deep in the Gabriel house.
So it is understandable that holding serve at the baseline might be more appealing than holding your ground at the goal line.
And for Tucker, it probably was never really about field versus court.
Because he is just like any other kid.
Trying to find that sweet spot.
The one just right for him.
So after seeing him play a little the other night at HHS I can tell you #42 made the right choice.
A conference title yesterday at number two doubles for he and his partner Patrick Findling.
And this coming week, sub-sectionals and what we all hope will be the great beyond for he and his teammates.
Seems to me that Tucker is right where he should be.
That sweet spot.
Where aspiration meshes with ability.