Like any good shooter, Madison Southern senior Chad Fugate knows that you have to take your shots when the opportunities arise.
You can't shy away when things are difficult.
That attitude has paved the way for Fugate to not only become the Eagles' leading scorer this season, but also for a chance to play basketball at the college level.
Last month, Fugate signed to play basketball at Asbury University -- a goal he's worked for since his sophomore year.
When he received an offer to attend an open gym from the university two years ao, he knew he wasn't going to let it slip away.
"I didn't look at any other colleges after I visited Asbury," Fugate said. "I went and fell in love with the campus and the coaches and knew that was where I wanted to be."
Just like on the court, Fugate set his sights on a goal and was willing to work hard to achieve it.
His determination and work ethic impressed Asbury associate head coach Russell Abner.
"One thing that stood out to us about Chad was his determination. He has been to more Asbury open gyms than our own players. He is a dedicated individual and has shown that from the beginning," Abner said during the senior's signing ceremony last month at Madison Southern.
Madison Southern coach Austin Newton also praised Fugate's work ethic and servant leadership approach, recalling an impactful moment during the senior's signing ceremony.
"I walked into the locker room and he had the vacuum cleaner out and was vacuuming the locker room. No one asked him to do it. No one was even there -- I think a junior varsity game had just ended. But that's what kind of individual he is," Newton recalled.
Fugate said those moments are just second-nature to him.
"Whenever I see something that needs to be done. I do it," Fugate said matter-of-factly.
Sometimes, that hasn't always been easy.
As a freshman, Fugate played football but decided to focus on basketball after playing in just eight games .
His sophomore year, Fugate was determined to prove himself as a vital member of the team and worked all summer on honing his game.
He played in 32 games that season and emerged as the team's second-leading scorer -- but Fugate still wasn't satisfied with his shooting.
"I wanted to do better. I had to work really hard on it. In middle school I never shot three-pointers. It wasn't until sophomore year that I started shooting open shots. I worked on it constantly," Fugate explained.
His junior year came with a coaching change and a nagging ankle injury.
Despite the challenges, Fugate played in 31 games and was the team's second-leading scorer. He averaged 12 points per game and shot 84.8 percent from the free throw line (78-of-92).
Newton praised the senior for fighting through the injury for his team.
"He's done everything I've asked him as a coach. He never complains. He has taken everything in stride. It's not easy as a junior to have a coaching change. The thing about Chad, he keeps getting better and better," the coach said.
Again, Fugate was determined to make his senior year his best.
"Changes happen. You just got to keep going and make the best of it. I was able to rest my ankle this summer and keep working on getting better," Fugate said.
Another obstacle came about pre-season for the Eagles and Fugate -- their leading scorer Trent Moberly was sidelined with a knee injury and will likely miss the entire season.
Fugate said he knew he would have to step up -- and he has.
So far this season, the senior is averaging 19.4 points per game and is the team's leading scorer with 233 points.
In just 12 games, Fugate has already connected on 29 three pointers and 58 free throws. The senior is shooting 54.5 percent from the field, 43.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.3 percent from the charity strip.
He is also currently the third-best rebounder on the team with 34 boards.
In the Eagles victory over Woodford, Fugate led all players with 32 points while also draining six threes.
The senior had 24 points in Southern's win over Lake Mary Prep (Fla.) last week in Florida and was named to the Rock Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.
Despite the senior's individual accomplishments, Fugate said he is more proud of his team dealing with the adversity of losing a key starter.
"As a team, I think we've done a really good job of overcoming Trent's injury and finding a way to be the team we wanted to be. Everyone has come together," Fugate said.
Newton said, as a captain, Fugate has been an effective leader during the Eagles' transition.
"He's going to be a huge reason why we are going to have a good season. He shows the younger guys how to act and be a leader -- not just on the court, but off it as well," Newton explained.
To Fugate, this season is just another opportunity to be better.
"We have some big goals this season and we will have to continue to work hard to reach them. It's a lot like taking shots. You just have to work hard and practice and when your have an open shot, you take it. A lot of people pass up on that stuff. I want to show, especially the younger guys, that we can do anything we set our minds to and be comfortable taking those opportunities," the senior said.