Whitwell senior first in a decade to get full athletic scholarsh - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Whitwell senior first in a decade to get full athletic scholarship

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WHITWELL, TN (WRCB) -  It's a proud moment for any student athlete to be offered a full athletic scholarship to go to college, especially when it's been more than a decade since anyone else from that high school was offered the same.    
     
That's why this Whitwell High School senior Tyler Tate says he's got a lot to be thankful for.

"And then Cumberland came along and offered me a full ride and I was like bam that's what I wanted to do," said Tate.
     
For Tate, getting a full scholarship to play football at Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN is a dream come true.

"Just the feeling on Friday nights, the lights, the fans, the everything," Tate said, "You can't beat it."
     
Most people at Whitwell High School can't remember the last time a student was offered a full athletic scholarship to play football, but they do know it's been a very long time.

"That's pretty special I'm the only one to get a full ride in, I don't know how long it's been," Tate said, "But it's been a while."

"It's been very much a while. I graduated in 2000, Coach graduated in the 80's and we can't think of anybody between the two of us," said Joey Smith, Whitwell graduate and asst. baseball coach.
     
After a little digging around, football coach Richard Helton found out a 2004 graduate was the last student to get a full football scholarship.
    
And the one before him? He can't say for sure.
     
But what he does know is that Tate's hard work will not go unnoticed at Cumberland University.

"I'm starting to get a little teary eyed," Coach Helton said, "I wanted to get out of the room because I didn't want Tate to see me getting watery-eyed but I am very proud of him, it's a humbling experience."
     
Coach Helton hopes this shows others at Whitwell that a chance at college, and at college-level athletics, is still possible coming from a smaller school.

"We may have limited resources, we may have limited funds, but that doesn't mean we can't professionalize what we're doing here," Coach Helton said.

"I don't care how big you are, how small you are, I think if you have the heart and you play with dedication you can do anything you want," Tate said.

Three female athletes also signed letters of intent this year coming from Whitwell High school, and Coach Helton says there are a few other seniors on the team that are hoping to continue to play football in college.

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