Scholar Athlete of the Week: Cortney Tate

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some people forget about their history. Cortney Tate embraces his. History is even his favorite subject.

“It helps you know about your past and where you come from,” Tate said. “Without your past you won’t know where you’ve been.”

Tate’s past was once clouded with hopelessness. This has given way to a fresh outlook for the future.

His transfer to Freedom Prep in the seventh grade started it all.

“I was still off task a little bit but the way they structured it helped me get back on track,” he said. “They had other people to mentor me to get back on the right track.”

Prep athletic director and football coach Jerald Cook is among those people.

“That’s when I tended to start pushing in a little bit more into his classroom,” Cook said. “Just started walking with him on his journey through Freedom Prep. Every year it’s just been amazing to see the growth in him.”

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The soft-spoken Tate is a captain for the Eagles. His journey serves as an inspiration for his teammates.

“He’s a self-motivator,” Cook said. “He also motivates the other guys on the team as well. He’s one of those kids that if I need practice equipment, if I’m not available, if I’m not around, I pretty much can depend on him taking care of things, making sure guys are in the right place.”

The school on Jonetta Street is the right place for Tate and several other young people.

“I wish more parents can come and tour, witness and observe what Freedom Prep has to offer,” Cook said. “When we’re actually in class, especially at the high school level, how we’re aligning kids for college and life outside of the secondary setting. It’s amazing.”

Tate certainly agrees.

“Freedom Prep really has been good through all my years since seventh grade,” he said. “I come from a very difficult neighborhood where it’s like shootings every night.”

These days Tate’s nights are filled with studying and football. He’s certainly doing his thing on the field.

The junior rushed for over 300 yards and five touchdowns Thursday in the Eagles’ win over Middle College.

“I think he may have found his calling on the football field at running back,” Cook said. “These first two weeks he’s averaging over 100 yards. Right at about three touchdowns. So, he’s off to a good start.”

Tate’s academic start wasn’t the best. What matters now, though, is his growth.

“I’ll never forget my past,” he said. “I see me having a bright future. I don’t know where it’s going to be, but I know it’s going to be bright.”