Leesburg, Fla. - Over the last two years, Tucker Smith's name has been synonymous with excellence, not only on the ball field, but in the classroom. It is well known that this young man has never missed a day of school in his entire academic career. A leader on the diamond, in the gym and in the weight room, Smith never lost sight of his academic goals. His hard work and dedication to his team and his books has paid off. Since the end of his season, Smith has been selected for several very prominent awards.
At the state baseball meeting in the beginning of May, Smith was selected as the Bill Tuten Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The award is named for one of St. John's River State College's original faculty members. In 1958, Tuten organized the school's first basketball team and spent the next 35 years as a coach and mentor. On a state level, he was named as a member of the FCSAA Hall of Fame and served as the FCSAA Athletic Commissioner and NJCAA Region Director for 24 years. The award is given every spring to the top Junior College student-athlete in the state of Florida for the sport of baseball. The student-athlete must exemplify outstanding commitment to community service, excellence in the classroom, and performance on the field. Smith became the second LSSC baseball player to receive the award after Chris Blanton was selected in 2014.
Head Baseball Coach, Rich Billings said, "We are so proud of Tucker for each of his accomplishments here at LSSC, but we are especially proud of him for being this year's recipient of the Bill Tuten Scholar Athlete Award." Billings went on to say, "Tucker has been such a great example of what a Lakehawk student-athlete should look like. He has selflessly served our community while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. On top of that he has been a tremendous competitor on the baseball field over the last two seasons. He has set the bar very high for all future Lakehawks and I am confident that he will have continuous success at the next level as he pursues his academic and athletic goals at Georgia Southwestern University."
Smith dawned his cap and gown on May 5th to walk across the stage and received his degree. Before he took those steps, it was announced he was 1 of 7 finalists for the President's Award. The decoration is the highest honor a student can receive at Lake-Sumter. President, Dr. Stanley Sidor named Smith as the recipient of this year's award. This marks back-to-back year's a student-athlete has won the award. Softball standout, Madison Mihok took home the honor in 2016.
"Having never missed a day of school in his life, Tucker has been a witness to what it means to be a student-athlete," said Athletic Director, Mike Matulia. "Tucker excelled in the classroom while contributing to his team as a two-year starting pitcher and showing leadership in volunteering in our community. He exemplified what a leader should be in every facet of the college experience."
Smith was a constant on the President's list every semester maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He received the LSSC Leadership Award, NJCAA Pinnacle Academic Award as well as All-Conference and All-State Academic honors. Tucker also has over 40 hours of volunteer service at local elementary schools in the past two years. Adding that to his resume, Smith was tabbed the Male Student-Athlete Award winner at the Athletics Banquet at the end of April. He will be moving on to Georgia Southwestern to continue playing baseball.