Sarah Abbott, a senior at Rich East High School in Park Forest, has earned a prestigious Chick Evans Caddy Scholarship award, and will attend Purdue University in the fall. She is enrolled as Management undecided and plans to concentrate in Information Systems.
The scholarship is a four-year, full-tuition scholarship for partner colleges with the basis of a strong caddie record, academics, character, and financial need. It pays tuition, provides living in a Chick Evans Scholarship co-ed house off-campus for all those with the same scholarship, all expenses paid.
"Not only do I feel relief and security, but extraordinary gratefulness," Abbott said. "I never thought I would be going to college without a financial worry. College went from terrifying to exhilarating in the time it took me to read one sentence."
Abbott has been a golf caddy at Flossmoor Country Club for more than three years and is also a server in the country club dining room to work toward earning the scholarship.
"It is absolutely amazing what organizations like this and people like my caddie master, Mr. Collins, do for students like me," she said.
Abbott started working toward her goal of earning the scholarship the summer of her freshman-sophomore year at Rich East. She would caddy all day, often starting at sunrise, almost every day, then go to cross country conditioning three day a week in the evening. But she soon learned that hard work pays off.
"Caddying is more work than I had ever imagined, but it is worth every struggle I have faced," she said. "I never expected to meet such amazing friends and make valuable connections."
While a long-time solid runner on the cross country course and on the track, the game of golf slowly began to interest her more and more every day.
"In all honesty, I had no appreciation for the game of golf prior to caddying. I must admit it took my entire first year to truly understand it; past having to watch a tiny ball fly through the air," Abbott said. "Through my three years, having observed hundreds of golfers, I have begun to understand how such a tedious and mentally-challenging sport entices the player.
"What I like most about caddying does not necessarily have to do with the game, however, but the interaction with the members of the club, their guests, and fellow caddies. Also being a server at the same country club, I have developed personal relationships with many of the members and there are a few who have become mentors to me along the way. For this, I am eternally grateful."
Throughout her high school career, Abbott has found a nice balance with academics, sports, activities in enjoying her high school experience. And she has done so with humbleness, flair and gratitude. Sarah is first in her class (of 200, and has been so since freshman year) with a 4.489 GPA. She has also run track for four years; cross country for three years (a two-time sectional qualifier); Mathletes, Scholastic Bowl; Business Professionals of American (as a sophomore, she won a state championship in Keyboarding Production and was a national qualifier); DECA; National Honor Society; Spanish National Honor Society, GSA; and Student Council to name a few.
Abbott is very appreciative of the opportunity to caddy at Flossmoor Country Club, for the scholarship and for the people who have helped her along the way. And, she may someday add golf to the list of sports she likes to participate in. For now, she will concentrate on school and caddying, and maybe helping others along the way.
"If I were to name one experience above all it would be the mentoring of a certain golfer, Mr. Kevin Cahoon. He allowed me to caddie for him almost daily on his speedy 2-hour rounds of golf and I have thus volunteered my time with him for the Glenwood School in the Hundred Hole Hike (an event where golfers play, on foot, one hundred holes (almost six rounds) in one day for a charity of their choice). He has taught me valuable lessons and his generosity is immense. Of course, there are many more amazing people I have spent time with because of the opportunities Flossmoor Country Club has given me, but my experience with Mr. Cahoon has definitely helped shape me to who I am today."
While she still runs almost daily, with caddying and school priority one, hitting the links with her own set of clubs is in her future plans.
"Eventually, I do plan on picking up the game," Abbott said. "But for now caddying will do."