Carlisle County High School senior Trace Hook strives to be a "real point guard" on and off the basketball court, remembering advice from a coach.
"Inside basketball, I have to let everyone know what to do, run the right plays and make the right decisions, but outside of basketball I have to be a leader in that, too.
"I have to lead the rest of my class and make the right decisions, don't fall in with the rest of the crowd and just be an outstanding human being, which is what I'm trying to do," he said.
The 18-year-old Cunningham teen fills his days with school, sports, hanging out with friends, church and playing video games, describing himself as a "simple guy" who likes to get what he needs to get done - done.
That attitude and work ethic led him to rank No. 1 in his graduating class, while playing Comets baseball and basketball as mainly a second baseman and point guard. He's earned a composite ACT score of 31 and his weighted GPA is above 4.0.
Hook's drive is also reflected in his desired college program after he graduates from high school. He wants to study engineering at University of Kentucky College of Engineering-Paducah Campus, citing business as a potential backup plan.
"One of my older cousins went through that same program and he said it was really good," Hook said. "I've known a couple of other people that went through it and it just sounds like something that interests me. I like knowing how things come together and finding out different ways to do simple things and I think that fits well."
He hasn't decided on what exact field of study -- he's leaning toward mechanical engineering -- or what career path, but knows he wants to stay close enough to Carlisle County, where he's grown up.
Hook, the son of Shawn and Julie Hook of Cunningham, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
On Monday and Tuesday, The Sun publishes profile stories about area high school seniors chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee selects one senior for Teen of the Year, who receives a $5,000 scholarship. An additional student is recognized with an Inspiration Award, which carries a $1,000 scholarship.
Hook has taken part in other activities and clubs, including Future Business Leaders of America, Beta Club, Students Taking Action to Resist Substances (STARS) and University of Kentucky Rising Scholars program. He's also been recognized for several Comets baseball and basketball honors.
Although Hook doesn't plan to play in college, he attributes playing team sports to teaching him different life lessons and skills. He anticipates playing sports as being the main thing he'll miss after high school.
He explained that basketball, which is his preferred sport, can teach athletes how to "react on the fly" and work with others to achieve one common goal. Athletes in team sports also can't do everything by themselves.
"I used to want to do everything by myself, so no one can mess it up, but playing team sports, you have to have trust in your teammates to make the right plays or do the right decisions and I think that has helped me a lot -- (to) realize that you can't do everything on your own," he said.
Graduation isn't that far away and Hook wants to focus on sports as much as he can during senior year, while maintaining good grades and getting everything ready for the next step in his life. Graduating is a bittersweet concept for Hook, but he appears up for the challenge.
"I think I'm going to miss high school a lot because once you get out of high school, everyone kind of goes their separate ways and the group you hang out with dwindles down and just not being able to see certain people that I grew up with every day is going to be hard, but I'm ready for new opportunities whenever they occur," he said.
By Kelly Farrell