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CEDAR RAPIDS — Terrence Hall never will forget it, calls it a movie-scene moment.
It was late summer, early fall of 2011, and he was a freshman in high school, hanging out with buddies at a park near his home on the south side of Chicago. Suddenly and unexpectedly, his mother drove up.
Their life’s belongings were in her car.
“Hey, get in. We’re leaving,” Tequila Smith told her son.
Just like that. No real further explanation.
Get in. They were leaving.
“I’m just kind of looking at my friends out the window,” said Hall, a junior linebacker for the Coe College football team. “They were like ‘What’s going on?’ I was like ‘I don’t even know. I guess I’m moving to Iowa.’ It was just that quick.”
Smith was having problems finding a good job, and the house she and her son shared had just been foreclosed upon. There was family in Atlanta and family in Cedar Rapids, and her choice was to go to Cedar Rapids to find a better life.
Hall didn’t like it.
“I hated it at first because I was so used to the city and being with all my friends,” he said. “But I don’t regret it at all. I think moving here has been good for me, good for my mom and my family overall. I’ve met some of what will be my best friends throughout my lifetime in high school and here at Coe. It happened, and you’ve got to play the cards that you’re dealt.”
Hall was an all-state player at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, a linebacker and fullback who was bestowed with the nickname ‘T-Money.’ Smith, always an ardent and vocal supporter of her son, attends every one of his games.
That will include Saturday afternoon when the Kohawks (3-0, 1-0 IIAC) host Simpson (1-2, 0-1) at Clark Field.
“Everyone here calls her ‘Mama Money,’” said Hall, a courteous and pleasant young man with a smile that never seems to leave his face. “Everybody calls me ‘T-Money,’ so she gets called ‘Mama Money.’ Back in high school, I played on both sides of the ball, and whenever I would make a play or score a touchdown, she would stand up and say ‘That’s gonna be money, baby!’
“If you’re here at the game Saturday, you won’t miss her. You’ll hear her in the stands. That voice definitely stands out. She’s been a motivational factor for me my whole life.”
Hall leads the Iowa Conference in tackles through three games, and also has an interception. He deflects credit for his success to a stout Kohawk defensive line that includes former Kennedy teammate Drew Heitland.
They hold up the opposing linemen, and he shoots gaps and makes tackles.
“Terrence saw a lot of action last year on a very good football team, and I think it was important for him to get that experience,” said Coe Coach Tyler Staker. “From his sophomore year to his junior year, we felt like we had a really good linebacker there, felt like he could really develop and be someone we could count on every down.”
His mom always has been able to count on him, that’s for sure. Hall worked a steady job throughout high school to help the family make financial ends meet.
He has moved his way up to assistant manager at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in northeast Cedar Rapids, helped teammates secure jobs there. He’s part time during football season, but once it concludes, Hall figures he’ll average 40 to 50 hours of work a week.
That’s on top of being a full-time student and doing whatever offseason football training that is required.
“For me, it’s been something that’s been consistent,” he said. “I told my mom she’s not alone, I’ve got her back, so I’ve kind of done what I’ve had to do to help out. I’m holding up my end of the bargain and providing, doing as much as I can to make our situation easy. I told myself that I didn’t want her to pay for any of my schooling, anything like that. So I kind of took it upon myself to take care of that side of things. The bills have got to be paid, so somebody’s gotta work. She can’t do it alone.”
Hall was asked how he finds time to work full time and get his classwork done. He is studying computer technology and hopes to someday land a job at a major company like Apple or Google.
“I find myself having a lot of late nights, a lot of early mornings,” he said. “But in the long run, I like to use the term ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ You’ve got to do the things that you’ve got to do. It sucks. Some nights, I’m super down, super tired, but the No. 1 motivational goal for me is my mom and the end goal. This has taught me a big life lesson. You’ve got to what you’ve got to do and get the job done.”
Obviously, that’s on the field and off.
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