Folks in Lakeside City should be on the lookout for a 6-foot 5-inch, 190-pound Holliday High School Eagle to come running down the street. The athlete in training is Tucker Strealy, an all-star in several sports, as well as a member of the All State Academic team. He may come running down your street but at a safe distance to comply with the COVID-19 social distancing requirement. Therein lies the heartbreak and disappointment of the Holliday senior’s spring. While he is keeping his distance, you won’t be able to enjoy what a genuinely friendly person Tucker is. As he says, “I’m keeping far away from everybody. Sometimes I’ll see my friends and it’s hard not to come and just hang out with them. I just want to see everybody again, so it’s really hard when I go running around the neighborhood and see all my friends.”
He would much prefer to be competing on the spring golf team and on the track in the 400-meter dash. Preliminary times indicated a good shot at a good year on the track. Tucker’s father Clay Strealy is a member of the Holliday Eagle coaching staff and world history teacher in the 6th grade at Holliday. Clay coaches the golf team so a chance for father and son to enjoy spring competition on the links has been placed on hold. Both hold out hope of some reinstatement of UIL competition before year end. Two of Tucker’s best friends, Konner Wood in the discus and Tyler Webb in tennis, had, and hopefully may still have, a legitimate shot at being State Champions.
Tucker and the coaching staff at Holliday High School are a family affair. His mother Kimberly Strealy is a 7th grade English teacher at Holliday. Kimberly’s maiden name is Tucker. She just happens to be the sister of head basketball coach Kyle Tucker. With that in mind it seems pretty easy to see why he was named Tucker. His basketball coach and uncle Kyle Tucker said, “Tucker has been a big part of our program the last 4 years. He has been a leader on and off the court. It has been a unique and very rewarding experience coaching my nephew. I have enjoyed getting to watch him first hand grow as a student athlete and person. We have been able to share a lot of great memories as a family during this time. I believe he has a bright future ahead of him in whatever he decides to do.”
The whole coronavirus pandemic became a reality at the State Basketball Tournament this year. A father and son outing to see the best basketball teams in action turned into an invitation to go home. After seeing only three games the tournament was shut down, and everybody was run out of the gym. Tucker expressed his dismay saying, “I’m not going to lie, it sucked when it first came out. That was really disappointing, and then when everything started getting cancelled it just kind of sucked. You couldn’t really do anything about it when you realize you couldn’t go and compete and see all your buddies.”
Even without spring sports Tucker has a lot to be proud of. He is a 2-year letterman in football, a 3-year letterman in basketball and track, and a 1-year letterman in golf. His junior year in football he was 2nd Team All District at wide receiver. His senior year he was 1st Team All District at wide receiver matching that with a 1st Team All District selection at defensive end. As a sophomore he was the Newcomer of the Year in District 8-3A in basketball following that up in his junior year as the district’s Most Valuable Player. He was Offensive Player of the Year in District 8-3A his senior year and was twice selected to the All Region Team. He has been a member of the Times Record News Red River 22 basketball selection the past two years. He also has Academic All-State to his credit as well.
Tucker’s day during the school closure and social distancing starts at 8am. He hits the books all morning at the insistence of his parents to keep up with school work. After lunch he starts his training. He said, “My goal right now is just to try to stay in shape. I’ve been working just in case they do let us finish out the year in sports.” After workout he and his brother Hayden, a sophomore at Holliday High School, throw around the football or shoot some hoops. Often as a family they play games outdoors or indoors a game of spades. Tucker’s little sister Aubrea is a 7th grader at Holliday. He said, “At these moments I am glad I am not an only child.”
When asked about the most memorable moment in his high school career he picked the undefeated basketball season district championship in District 8-3A. Picked to finish third the Eagles finished on top of the defending State Champion Bowie. He said, “Winning district was fun but going undefeated in district was really special to all of us.” Another highlight was his 91-yard touchdown catch and run against Gunter in the State Quarterfinal game. That play is believed to be the longest touchdown in Holliday Eagle history. He was proud of another catch later in the game, “It was pretty cool when I caught that pass over four people.” He made a poignant statement at this point in the interview saying, “I should have enjoyed every moment, because you never know when it will be your last.”
Head football coach Frank Johnson spoke glowingly of his wide receiver/defensive end, “Tucker was always dependable, with a good work ethic. Tucker was also a good leader both on and off the field, court or track. Tucker is a good athlete, but he is also a great competitor as well. We will miss Tucker, because of his impact in three sports, his leaderships, and mainly because he is just a great kid.” Johnson did indicate a streak of orneriness. Tucker explained, “Ornery? That is how I show my affection, you can ask my family, I am ornery with you and aggravate people to show I care.” Coach Johnson is pretty ornery himself according to Tucker, especially when a newspaper reporter is around.
Several college coaches have shown interest in Tucker, but he is leaning toward attending MSU Texas. There he can get a preliminary degree toward his goal of becoming a physical therapist. Staying close to home will allow him to support his brother and sister in all their activities. He said, “It’s weird timing, but it feels right now to stay close to home.”
Tucker shows he cares for friends and teammates by phoning or Facetiming to check in while acknowledging it as poor substitute for friendly conversations with classmates at school. Not being able to network at track meets with athletes and friends from other schools is another loss due to the pandemic. He said, “Not being able to see everybody in school has been kind of hard because I like to go talk and make sure everybody is having a good day. I’m trying to stay encouraging to everybody; hopefully we will be able to finish the year or finish sports or whatever it is.”
His Uncle Kyle once called him in basketball practice by his name as a baby, T-Ryan, Ryan being Tucker’s middle name. All of his teammates fell out laughing and found it to be a pretty hilarious moment. That kind of moment speaks volumes about the comradery of family, friends and teammates that will hopefully return very soon. Whatever it is or is going to be is uncertain at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but rest assured Tucker Strealy will be ready for whatever it is.