By Gary R. Rasberry
The two young men representing the Celina golf team at the Division I district tournament on Thursday come in through different means.
One is a freshman who is making what will hopefully be the first of many attempts at making it to state.
The other is a junior who just hoped to be one shot better than the year before, when one shot denied him the chance at a district berth.
Freshman Paul VanDeventer and junior Patrick Bailey made it out of the sectional last week in Bowling Green as indviduals after the Bulldogs' team lost on the fifth-golfer tiebreaker for the third and final team spot.
For VanDeventer, entering his first year of high school golf, teeing off from the first hole at sectional was not comforting. "I was nervous. On the first tee I shanked it," said VanDeventer, who shot a 79. "I was excited too. I wanted to play good and wanted to get out (to move on to districts). When I found out I got out, I was happy."
One would think the game would be natural for VanDeventer. His father Keith is not only the Celina golf coach but also the professional instructor at the Fox's Den.
In truth, the younger VanDeventer has only been playing golf for the past five years.
"My dad worked on a course in Indiana. Before then, I never really thought about playing," said Paul. "I just played basketball and baseball. I just started on a par-3 course and from then on I started playing."
For Bailey, this season's advancement to the next round ended a tough year of having missed out by the closest of margins last season.
Bailey shot an 81 at the sectional tournament last season. The last score that went to district for an individual was 80, denying him the honor.
"I'm proud of myself," said Bailey. "That was my goal this year: to make the district. It's been an up-and-down season. It stinks that we didn't make it as a team, but at least we have two individuals going."
Bailey was looking to get a good start at sectional hoping to erase last year's disappointing finish, however, starting on the back nine at Stone Ridge, things did not start so well.
"My back nine wasn't very good. I shot a 42," said Bailey. "After I walked off 18, I had my head down. I thought to myself 'I have to shoot something good on the back.' Then I went to the front and shot a 38. I was happy with myself."
"Coach told me just not to shoot an 81 this year. I was just anxious and walking around, not wanting to look at the board. I wanted to make sure all the scores were in. When I saw my name in the last place of people getting out of districts ... a weight was lifted off my shoulders."
Paul VanDeventer is happy to have someone like Bailey to team up with and work with during the season.
"Pat's been a good leader for the team," said Paul. "He's helped me a lot, being a freshman."
The goals for the two golfers are somewhat the same and simple -- both want to do well at districts.
"It won't be a disappointment (not making state) but I'm hoping to get out to state," said VanDeventer. "I have three more years, but I would like to go to state my freshman year."
"I just want to play good," said Bailey. "If I don't make it to state, I'm not going to be disappointed in myself because I'm glad I made it to districts. I'll have next year."