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The summer before her freshman year of high school, Sarah Godwin was in the yard chipping golf balls when Jody O’Neal, Beddingfield High’s girls golf coach, jogged past during his daily exercise routine and noticed Godwin.
O’Neal stopped and asked: “Are you going to play golf?”
“I guess so,” Godwin responded.
A few weeks later, Godwin, the daughter of Jennifer and Roger Godwin of Black Creek, launched a four-year Lady Bruins career that was capped in precedent-setting fashion Tuesday morning.
In the school media center, O’Neal announced that Godwin will be the first female golfer from Beddingfield to earn a golf scholarship to compete at the next level.
She signed an affidavit of intent to continue her career at Johnston Community College in the presence of her parents, O’Neal, Principal F.T. Franks and Johnston coach Ed Ransopher. Godwin will sign a letter of intent when her golf scholarship goes into effect the second semester of her freshman year. Her first semester will be financially aided by a North Carolina Rescue and EMS Association scholarship.
She plans to pursue a career in fire protection.
“I wanted to go somewhere close, nothing too big,” Godwin explained her decision. “I didn’t know I was the first (female) but it’s an honor. It’s kind of cool.”
Commented O’Neal: “She’ll do fine. She works really hard and has done that for four years. You don’t have to tell her she needs to practice.
“She hits the ball a long way and that’s definitely a benefit to her. She needs to work on her short game. I’m excited for her; she’s a good girl from a good family. I’m just excited for her to get an opportunity to play and I feel like she will make the most of it.”
Ransopher listed Godwin as one of three female recruits he plans to bring in for 2018-19. The Jaguars of the NJCAA Division II ranks had no female golfers available last season. Ransopher revealed the program has been in existence for five years.
“She’s a good student with playing experience and a background,” Ransopher said. “She has skills that can be developed and, hopefully, she becomes a national candidate. At our level, scores are not as important as the desire to play. She needs to develop her short game and her ability to putt. That will save a lot of strokes.”
O’Neal reports Godwin is the first Lady Bruin to qualify for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A East Regional all four years. She posted an eighth-place finish her junior year. She is also Beddingfield’s first three-time female qualifier for the 2-A championship. Her career low competitive score is an 83.
“It started off rough,” Godwin reflected on her Beddingfield career. “But I got better and better each year — and it definitely showed.”
She indicated she stayed with golf because of respect for and encouragement from O’Neal and noted she is attracted to the sport because “the other players and super friendly and super nice. It tests your character and patience. It’s a fun sport.”
Of freshman goals with the Lady Jaguars, Godwin replied: “Get good enough to go to nationals.”