Valdosta Daily Times

October 10, 2013

Jessica Tuggle represents Blazer Tennis as homecoming queen

Staff Reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Jessica Tuggle as a member of the Valdosta State women's tennis team almost never happened.

The Greater Atlanta Christian graduate nearly dismissed the opportunity to be a Blazer, because she feared that she might never be able to carve her own path outside of the one left by her father Jessie Tuggle — a five time Pro Bowler, College Football Hall of Famer, and the most recognizable athlete to ever don a Blazer football uniform.

After some consideration, however, Tuggle made the decision to take the challenge head on and enter her freshman year of college with a goal to stand outside of her father's shadow.

Since then, the Alpharetta native has done just that, and this week she is enjoying her most recent accomplishment — being crowned the 2013 Valdosta State University Homecoming Queen.

Now in her senior year, Tuggle looks back on her decision to come to Valdosta State.

"It was a hard decision for me. At first, I didn't want to come to VSU, because I didn't want to be known only as Jessie Tuggle's daughter," says Tuggle. "But since I first stepped foot on this campus, I'm proud to say that I have been able to make a name for myself with tennis, with the organizations I'm involved with such as Delta Sigma Theta, and now with becoming homecoming queen."

The well-rounded college experience of VSU's newest homecoming queen includes a tennis career that has featured several notable contests.

Earlier this year, Tuggle put together a stretch of doubles matches in which she defeated three ranked teams when she teamed up with Julianna Boehm to defeat sixth ranked Columbus State, followed by consecutive victories with teammate Alina Nagel over No. 48 Concordia and seventh ranked Saint Leo less than one month later.

Tuggle is looking forward to channeling her experience in previous years, and converting it into positive momentum heading into her final season.

 "I'm so excited for the upcoming season," said the senior. "It's crazy how fast it has been. I can remember my first day of practice and how nervous I was just being on the team, and now the other players are looking to me to play a leadership role. But I look up them too. They make me better, encourage me to play hard, and remind me to never give up even at times when the odds may be against us."

Even with the variety of accomplishments in her career and her desire to branch out, Tuggle doesn't hesitate to acknowledge the appreciation for her father's support.

When asked about what it meant to her to have her father stand by her side as she was crowned homecoming queen on Saturday, Tuggle gushes. "It means the world to me! I'm excited that I have made a name for myself as Jessica Tuggle, but I don't take anything for granted, and I love where I come from. I am just so glad to be his daughter."

Blazer fans can look forward to watching Tuggle and the rest of the Blazer tennis team compete throughout her senior season, which will begin in early 2014.

Keep an eye out for the Valdosta State tennis schedule coming soon to www.vstateblazers.com.