Becoming a legend is a feat many Belmont athletes strive to achieve before they graduate.
There are only a select few that manage to do so by breaking records and changing the definition of what it means to be a great athlete.
Rebekah Stucker is one.
And she’s been throwing her way into Belmont’s record books since her first competition.
“She’s one of the best athletes we’ve had,” said assistant track and field coach Joe Frye.
Born and raised in Odessa, Missouri, a quaint, midwestern town with a population of roughly 5,500 people, Stucker started throwing for her middle school track team.
Being naturally strong for her age, she found success early on, laying the foundation for what was to come.
When her high school sophomore year rolled around, she decided to quit volleyball and dedicate herself to year-round training for track.
That decision did not take long to pay off as Stucker became one of the nation’s top women’s throwers in the class of 2020.
Colleges across the country were knocking at her door — and Belmont University was no exception.
Belmont initially contacted her during her junior year, and there was an immediate mutual interest.
“I was really interested in the school and when I came for a visit, I really liked the people and the small school feel to it.” Stucker said. “I really enjoyed the team, really liked the coach and they had everything that I wanted academically. So, it was just a perfect fit for me.”
Frye couldn’t believe she even considered Belmont in the recruiting process.
“We were really lucky that she even came to Belmont for a visit, and then ended up committing,” Frye said. “She’s one of the best throws recruits that I’ve ever had.”
Stucker has a definite “feel” for throwing, Frye said. That special skill allows her to learn quickly and make substantial progress in multiple events without plateauing.
After helping lead the Odessa Bulldogs to their first track and field state championship since 1994, Stucker committed to Belmont ahead of her senior year.
She was looking forward to setting more records for the Bulldogs that spring, but she had to settle for training on her own as COVID-19 ended the season before it began.
Entering her freshman year at Belmont, Stucker was happy she could finally compete.
Learning a lot from throwing and training on her own, she was more than eager to show her talents on a team.
“I was just excited.” Stucker said. “I was ready to start competing.”
And ready she was.
While many freshmen across the country were still shaking off the rust accumulated over quarantine, Stucker wasted no time making her presence be known in the Ohio Valley Conference.
During her first meet at the 2021 Margaret Simmons Invitational, Stucker placed first in shot put and discus, shattering the previously held Belmont records for both events.
Even though she broke multiple records that day, she wasn’t aware of what had just happened.
“At the time, I didn’t realize it was a school record because I was just focusing on what I was doing and how far I was throwing.” Stucker said. “But afterwards, it felt really good because I didn’t think I could do that as a freshman or at the very first meet, even though I made it my goal.”
Even with accomplishing greatness early on in her collegiate career, Stucker felt it wasn’t enough.
“I celebrate it in the moment, but I’m never satisfied. I always want more for myself,” she said.
This mindset clearly pays off.
Just a few days later at the Joey Haines Invitational, she broke her own shot-put record. She went on that season to win gold in the women’s discus and silver in women’s shot put at the OVC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
But that was only the beginning.
With her first collegiate season under her belt, Stucker came into 2021 with one clear goal in mind.
From shattering her own records multiple times to becoming the first ever Bruin to win OVC Outdoor Female Athlete of the Championship, Stucker was a force to be reckoned with.
She continued to lead the Bruins to their best point total as a team for a bronze finish and left Roy Stewart Stadium after capping off a historic season.
With her junior year underway, Stucker has already decided to redshirt the upcoming outdoor season in order to get a fifth year of eligibility.
With her work dedicated solely to indoor competition this year, her goals are clearly defined.
Break 20 meters in the weight throw and 15.5 meters in shot put.
If achieved, Stucker would surpass both records she set on Jan. 20 and 21 at the Vanderbilt Invitational, meaning she would hold the record for each of those throwing events at Belmont.
Stucker isn’t only a star on the field — she’s also no slouch in the classroom.
Majoring in exercise science with a minor in strength and conditioning, Stucker landed on the spring dean’s list her freshman year and still maintains good grades on top of her demanding training schedule.
So how does one succeed both academically and athletically with such an intense schedule?
Stucker’s advice is simple. “You just have to stay consistent and prepare yourself to reach that end goal — not just focus on the end goal,” she said.
From training hard at a young age to consistently breaking her own records, preparation is what Stucker has known forever, and that isn’t changing as she nears the end of her college career.
With that fifth year of college eligibility, Stucker looks to obtain her master's in sport administration at Belmont.
If all works out, she might follow the footsteps of Coach Frye by helping coach the next generation of Belmont athletes.
But first, she looks to solidify herself as one of the greatest athletes to ever don the red and blue.
This article was written by Seth Thorpe