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Jerry Costello

The Kid from Jesuit
June 7, 2015

In case you hadn’t noticed, that was a breath of fresh air breezing through the golf world. It’s been building for a few years, but it really came to life this past April, when Jordan Spieth turned in a record-breaking performance to win the Masters. He’s only 21, and he faced down some veteran players, and in the process he felt pretty good about himself. So did the rest of us, golf fans and non-fans alike.

                What amazes everyone is the way Spieth blends his youth with a maturity beyond his years, and it’s really no stretch at all to trace it to his schooling back in Dallas, his home town. Listen to Steve Koch, the athletic director at Jesuit College Preparatory School, which claims Spieth as a graduate of its class of 2011: “He says what he believes. He believes in supporting others, taking care of others before he takes care of himself.”               

                Or listen to Colette Corbin of St. Monica’s, Spieth’s elementary school: “Jordan was always respectful to staff and students alike. He was one of those kids that would just stay and help clean up in the cafeteria if he saw that I was short of students helping. He was considerate of others’ feelings and tried to include other students that might otherwise not be part of a group.”

                They were among those who spoke to Seth Gonzales of The Texas Catholic, the Dallas diocesan newspaper, for a story distributed by Catholic News Service. Dallas was where Spieth was already something of a local celebrity when he was named Junior Golfer of the Year and led his high school golf team to three state championships. 

                The Jesuit golf coach, Cathy Marino, remembers that while Spieth obviously stood out as a golfer, he was always “one of the guys.” Herself a 10-year veteran of the LPGA, she continued: “He was a regular high school kid a lot of the time and I was glad to see that. I think that’s important, especially once you turn pro and it becomes a business.”

                Spieth’s biggest fan says something about his priorities. She’s his teen-age sister, Ellie, and she’s autistic. His concern for her, at golf courses all over the country, is already the stuff of legend, and he made sure he had his family with him at Augusta, Georgia, when he won the Masters. So were his high school buddies—but not the Jesuit golf team, getting ready for a tournament of their own. Jesuit golfer Cameron Suhy summed up their reaction:

                “It was pretty nerve-wracking the whole week, just watching him having to sit on the lead, but when he finally pulled it out it definitely gave our team a lot of confidence. We saw that a kid from Jesuit could win on golf’s biggest stage.”

                There’s a long road ahead for Jordan Spieth, and it will be interesting to see if he’ll always be “the kid from Jesuit.”  Michael Earsing, president of the school, will be a watchful observer.

                “I think it’s a hope of everybody who works in Catholic education,” he said, “that you see somebody who is achieving at such a high level, who is also a wonderful model for our students. Jordan is just the common man who achieves greatness, through the blessings and talent God has given him to the maximum.”

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, STAYING POSITIVE AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org