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By Nona Tepper
Last fall, Lauryn Craine-Farries made history when she opened her college acceptance letter and found a scholarship offer inside. Come fall, she will be the first woman in Proviso Township High School's 100-year history paid to play golf at the collegiate level at Missouri Valley College.
"I think they saw potential," said Craine-Farries, 18, who recently celebrated her graduation from Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA). "Their coach said that their top five girls play lowest 88 and highest like 100, and I kind of play at 105. So if I can improve I can be one of his top girls." Golf scores are calculated by the number of shots taken each game.
Craine-Farries said she started playing golf at age 7, at the urging of her grandmother to get her out of the house and get involved in sports. The woman tried to get Craine-Farries involved in cheerleading, soccer and swimming. Once she tried golf, it was a hit.
"Just swinging the club is really fun, when you get a low score it feels really great," Craine-Farries said. "It's really calming to play, it's not loud like every other sport."
She continued to hone her game and, by the time she got to eighth grade, started noticing that she was a little better than those around her. Her coaches would pull her aside during practice to give more targeted lessons. Her sophomore year she was appointed captain of the Proviso East women's golf team, after the coach noticed how she always put equipment away after practice and constantly worked to better her game. Craine-Farries felt proud but nervous about the distinction—as team captain, all eyes were on her as she shot first at matches.
"I learned patience and to always push forward, even though sometimes you might not have the best things," she said. "One day either you will gain the things you need to get to where you want to be, or the people that you have made friends with along the way will help you."
Over the next two years, she said her relationship with the team coaches and members evolved into lifelong friends. They would text each other jokes and talk about what's going on in their lives. By her senior year, she said the team grew from just two golfers when she started to about six. She was named to the Mid Suburban League West All-Conference Academic team.
When she started looking at colleges her criteria was twofold—the school must offer a golf program and she wanted to feel a family vibe, like the one at Proviso East. Although she got 27 college offers, when she saw the $10,000 scholarship and met the team at Missouri Valley, she knew she had found a match. This fall, she looks forward to refining her golf game. She said she'll miss the team and coach who made her four years at PMSA great, and hopes to eventually follow in their footsteps and become coach of a high school golf team.
"Never give up. Even when it seems hard, just keep pushing forward," she said.