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Boys and Girls Clubs names football star ‘Youth of the Year’

POSTED: February 20, 2009 12:21 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Ebony Norman, Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year nominee.

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A Gainesville High School junior has been named as Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County.

Teryan Rucker, 17, a running back for Gainesville’s Red Elephants, received the club’s top youth honor Friday in a ceremony at Peach State Bank in Gainesville.

The organization’s Youth of the Year program recognizes young people who have overcome obstacles and become peer leaders.

Rucker was one of four finalists in Hall County competing for the honor, each of whom gave a speech Friday about how the organization had helped them meet challenges and mold them into responsible community members.

The other finalists were Tyeisha Williams, Stacy Young and Ebony Norman.

Rucker’s speech centered largely on his mother, who died suddenly in January, and how his connection with the Boys & Girls Clubs helped him cope with the loss.

Rucker said the day his mother died, the first person he called was the director of the Boys & Girls Clubs Teen Center, Derrick Caldwell.

“I knew that he would talk to me and help me with anything,” Rucker said.

Caldwell told Rucker he could handle the situation two different ways.

“He said I could let this tear me down, send me to the streets. I could be out there on drugs, but I’m not,” Rucker said. “He said I could let this be an inspiration, and let this get me through life.”

Rucker, who has been a club member since he was 6 years old, will now move on to compete against more than 30 other teenagers in the state Youth of the Year competition in March.

“Without this Boys and Girls Club, I don’t know where I would be,” Rucker said.


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