Balmorhea's Kyle Garcia, Denton Guyer’s Rachel Tullos honored as Chicken Express Community Heroes

Chicken Express and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football are partnering to honor the heroes in your community. Male and female student-athletes that lead by example on the field of play and in the classroom can be honored as Chicken Express Community Heroes and receive scholarship money to continue their education beyond high school.

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Rachel Tullos, Denton Guyer

While Rachel Tullos’ family has basketball in its blood, she’s paved her own path as a star volleyball player at the Class 6A level for Denton Guyer.

Tullos’ mom played basketball at Louisiana Tech and her aunts played at SMU and Stephen F. Austin. But after giving the sport a try back in elementary school, Tullos decided it wasn’t for her.

She picked up volleyball in 2nd grade and quickly settled on it as the focus of her athletic career moving forward.

“My whole family played basketball and I was the one who chose volleyball as my main sport,” Tullos said. “My grandparents actually signed me up for a little volleyball league at the YMCA which started my love for the game.”

After starting her high school career at Flower Mound Coram Deo Academy, Tullos transferred to Guyer before the start of last season and made an immediate impact on the court. She helped lead the Lady Wildcats back to the playoffs under first year head coach Heather Van Noy, earning District 6-6A Blocker of the Year honors.

While Tullos was the Newcomer of the Year in 2015 and a TAPPS All-State selection in 2016, her success at a much bigger school made this season a rewarding one. In addition to her All-District honors, Tullos was the Denton Record-Chronicle All-Area Co-Offensive MVP and a Texas Association of Volleyball Coaches All-State selection.

Tullos is committed to Arkansas State heading into her senior season with the Lady Wildcats.

“Being able to come into 6A volleyball and being a part of that journey to the playoffs was so exciting,” Tullos said. “We were in one of the toughest district of the state so I’m extremely proud of my team for making it as far as we did. We had some tough matches, but our fight and passion for the game kept us going.”

Off the court, Tullos is involved in PALS and spent time feeding the homeless in Dallas with her club volleyball team. She also served at local elementary schools, where she greeted and welcomed students to school each morning.

Tullos has a Magna Cum Laude academic designation and was an Academic All-State selection.

“Student-athletes’ lives are full of schoolwork and sports 24/7 but being able to be involved in the community and being a positive influence to others can make an impact on anyone at any age,” Tullos said. “We have influence with people and in areas of the community that others do not.”

Kyle Garcia, Balmorhea

When the clock hit zero on December 2, 2016 and Balmorhea officially secured a 74-52 win over Valley in the Class 1A Division II state semifinals, Kyle Garcia quickly forgot how cold it was as he began to celebrate.

Garcia, who was then a junior, played a key role in leading Balmorhea past Valley and into the state championship for the first time since 1998.

“As soon as the buzzer went off and we were handed the trophy, the entire town rushed the field and was cheering, laughing and crying with us,” Garcia said. “I remember a group of guys picking me up on their shoulders with my helmet and trophy in hand and just being able to watch everything around me.

“In that moment, I guarantee you not a single person was cold anymore.”

Garcia went on to lead the Bears to another state championship appearance as a senior this season, finishing his high school career as a three-time All-State selection and a back-to-back District MVP award winner.

The win over Valley and the ensuing celebration is part of what made Garcia’s time in the small town of Balmorhea so memorable.

“It’s crazy how much people actually come and show support for us,” Garcia said. “From a small town of about 400 people, our football games could bring all those people together and they would show nothing but love for us. When games were over, we’d see them in town and always get a hug or hand shake to be congratulated on a win.”

In addition to his football success, Garcia played basketball, tennis and ran track for Balmorhea. He was honored with the UIL Scholar Award and the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement.

Garcia also volunteers at church, helps with vacation bible school and plays an active role in a yearly project devoted to cleaning up HWY 17. When he turned 18, he joined the volunteer fire department.

Garcia plans on attending the University of Texas Tech in the fall and will major in accounting.

“Kyle is such a great kid,” Balmorhea teacher Cherry Villanueva said. “Not only is he a tremendous athlete but he’s a great student and a great role model for the students at our school and our community. He is so dedicated to all that he does. Balmorhea is very small but with kids like Kyle we are blessed beyond measure.”

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