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Now, I am pretty sure anybody that knows me understands I like playing golf. Golf has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. I like everything about it — the challenge, the outdoors the competition, the friendships. It covers most every base for me when it comes to how I spend my recreational time.
While I was growing up, my dad and I spent a lot of time on the golf course when I wasn’t playing other sports. In fact, he is still the first person I call after a good round or tournament. As much as he helped nurture my love for the game, there are two other unlikely people that influenced me when I look back on my younger years.
Mrs. Harriet White and Mrs. Putt Carter were two senior ladies that regularly invited me to play with them. Mrs. White, a mother of one of my friends, was hands down the greatest female player in the Greenville area and probably North Carolina during her heyday. I think at one point she had won 27 club championships at Greenville Country Club. Mrs. Carter was my piano teacher, an avid golfer and a kind soul.
It was not unusual for me as a 12-year-old to meet one of these ladies at the course for a round of golf on a weekday summer morning. Looking back, I remember Mrs. White’s competitiveness and all she taught me about playing the game. To this day, I think about her every time I hold the flag for someone putting a long putt. I can still hear her voice telling me to make sure my shadow wasn’t covering the hole. Mrs. Carter was different. She wasn’t the best golfer around, but I remember how much she enjoyed the game. I can still hear her cackle when she made a long putt. She didn’t worry about her score. She was there for the experience and companionship.
My point is neither of these ladies had any obligation to spend their free time with a young kid like myself. They both had families and kids of their own. I think Mrs. Carter might have even had grandkids. But as I’ve gotten older, it has occurred to me that I was getting mentored and didn’t even know it. I thought I was just playing golf. Heck, I was just trying to beat Mrs. White.
It takes a special adult to spend their free time with our youth. Thankfully, the Wilson community has many examples. Reggie Smith of the Wilson Police Department has been a Big Brother and middle school basketball coach to a countless number of kids through the years. Robert Stokely has spent hours upon hours on baseball fields with young players as well as served as president of the Wilson City Little League. Duane Pittman has developed a top notch AAU program named Wilson Elite that continues to expand every year. Jim Boykin Jr. has supported and pushed junior golf through coaching and his work with the Larry Pittman Memorial tournament.
These four examples are just a few that come to mind when I think of adults giving back. They all have families, careers and other responsibilities, but they choose to spend some of their spare time teaching, coaching and mentoring our youth and I’m sure each of them will tell you it has been time well spent.
So, my hat is off to anyone that spends extra time with our youth for whatever reason. They all deserve a big thank you and a pat on the back. The world needs more folks like Mrs. White and Mrs. Carter, because at the end of the day, you never know what a young person is going to take with them.