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U.S. Army veteran, TMC Transportation driver Kyle Lee wins Top Rookie honor

Top Rookie winner Kyle Lee stands with his wife Kayla, 5 month old daughter Adelaide and 5-year-old son Koy. His 5-year-old son Mavrick was not at the presentation. (The Trucker: Aprille Hanson)

By Aprille Hanson
The Trucker Staff


DALLAS — Kyle Lee, driver for TMC Transportation, was named Trucking's Top Rookie at the Great American Trucking Show here Friday out of 10 finalists.

The Top Rookie, sponsored by several trucking entities and organizations, including Truckload Carriers Association, receives several prizes including $10,000, a custom plaque, one-year supply of 5-Hour Energy drinks, another $1,000 and 100,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J.

The other nine finalists receive $1,000 and a prize package. There were 46 drivers from more than 20 companies competing for the honor. Five fleets were represented in the finalists.  

Lee, 25, of Ottawa, Kan., served in the U.S. Army for four years and is currently serving in the National Guard. He drove heavy machinery while stationed overseas. He attended MTC Truck Driver Training. His philosophy, shared with the audience before he was announced as the winner, is: “If you're on-time, you're late.”

His wife Kayla and two of his children, Adelaide, 5 months old, and Koy, 5, were with him when he was named as the Top Rookie. Lee also has a five-year-old son Mavrick.

Kayla Lee said the family had prayed that whoever needed the money would receive the honor and receiving it was “awesome” for their family.

In agreement, Kyle Lee said after his name was announced that it felt, “Awesome. I’m really surprised.”

His son Koy said he was proud of his father, smiling while holding a large plaque for the honor.

“I’m pretty proud of myself too,” Koy said, looking at the large plaque.

“It has your name on it,” Koy said to his father.

Several speakers were on hand to congratulate and share stories about each of the finalists.

“Every one of you makes me proud to be a truck driver,” said Gary Babbitt, a Road Team Captain for America’s Road Team. “Thank you for continuing to serve our country as a driver because we all are a team of drivers.”

TCA President Chris Burruss spoke before Kyle Lee was announced as the winner.

“I appreciate what you guys do not only for our country and the economy but for me and my family,” Burress said. “Thank you for bringing the groceries and medical supplies, books for schools and parts for cars, the list goes on and on. You truly make a difference out there. I would simply say we need driver for our industry, but we need quality drivers and each of you are surly that.”

Drivers were nominated through motor carrier employees, the public or training organizations. Those CDL holders eligible had to be employed by a trucking company for less than a year and graduated from a certified training school. Drivers had to submit an essay and answer several questions in a nomination form and testimony letters from those that nominated a driver were included in consideration for the honor. Other judging criteria included on-time deliveries, work record and non-job related activities.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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