SAMPSON COUNTY — Senior year.
The two words present a sense of pride, accomplishment, finality and optimism for high school athletes.
It means one more chance to reach lofty goals. One final grasp at leaving a lasting impression for those to follow. The last opportunity to join fellow upperclassmen on a special journey.
For Midway senior golfer Logan Patrick, this week’s announcement from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) to further postpone interscholastic sports until May because of the COVID-19 pandemic puts those aspirations in jeopardy.
“They want to play their last year and make every kind of memory they can,” Patrick said of he and fellow senior athletes. “But, I mean, you kind of just take in the reality ... just kind of deal with it and move on.”
Patrick has set a high standard for himself as well as teammates over the past three seasons, leading Midway boys golf to three consecutive conference and regional championships. During that stretch, the Raiders boast a 2A state championship, with Patrick winning the state’s individual first-place title in back-to-back seasons.
At the two-day state championship tournament last spring, Patrick posted scores of 71 and 74 to take a second straight title and stake his claim as one of the most storied athletes in school history.
“He’s worked hard and he’s put our high school on a different level,” Midway coach Glen Patrick said of his son.
Glen Patrick has been along for the ride all four years, taking over the program before Logan’s freshman season. He says that the state’s decision to ban sports is heartbreaking not only for his son, but also for the team’s other two seniors, Andrew Elder and Matthew Faircloth.
“Some of these kids that’s playing now, they’re not going to play [collegiate] golf, so this is their time,” Glen Patrick said. “When it gets cut short like this, it’s tough on the kids. It ain’t about me ... they’re the one that’s done all the work and winning championships. It’s about them.”
Elder and Faircloth have been integral parts of what Glen Patrick refers to as his “most special” group. He added that both have gotten better each year.
Meanwhile, Logan Patrick says that despite committing to play at the next level for Fayetteville State University, the toughest part of the suspension is not having the opportunity to attempt the lofty goals he’s set for this upcoming year.
But still, he says he’s dedicated to being “connected with clubs” and keeping himself ready in the event play resumes.
“Just because we don’t get to play our matches doesn’t mean you think, ‘Well, the season’s over. Go home and sit on the couch and pout,’” Logan Patrick said.
“It’s kind of a bad place to be but ... in my head, I’m just going to keep my game where it needs to be. If the season comes back around and we get to play, I want to be at the top of my game.”
He added that he’s using the idle period to hone his skills every week at local courses, especially Chicora Golf Club where he’s joined by his teammates at times. Logan Patrick feels the time off will give the Raiders a greater sense of self awareness, which he thinks will make for better overall performances.
Boy’s golf regionals competitions were initially scheduled for May 4 or 5, with the state championships set for the following week. The NCHSAA’s statement this week marked May 18 as the final day of the suspension, which is subject to change at the discretion of the organization’s board of directors.
“Really, to me, I feel like if we actually do get to play, a lot of the players will be a little bit stronger,” he said. “It’ll bring them back to reality and be like, ‘Hey, this is our last year of playing together.’”
Donnell Coley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 910-230-2040.